Day of Judgment


Resurrection of the Blue Devil

It took me a while to get this section of the site up and in that time, I had a few people write me about Blue Devil's resurrection. Thanks to a fan, actually, for pointing this issue out to me in the first place. Clearly, at the time I didn't exactly have my finger on the pulse of the comic book industry. That being said, this page has undergone about three revisions since I originally published it. On every pass I'm a little more forgiving in my appraisal of DAY OF JUDGMENT No. 4. My kneejerk reaction was not a positive one. Blame it on the fanboy mentality--a certain facile willingness to find fault in anything that doesn't portray a character you enjoy in the exact way you would like it to.

The Blue Devil fans who contacted me about the issue seemed to be all rather excited and happy about it. And naturally I am, as well. I have a lot of issues with the number and frequency of resurrections in comic books, but at least when dealing in demons, resurrection is a bit less preposterous. My major beef with the issue is the sort of handwaving method of Blue Devil's return to corporealness. Faust dumps out a bag of Dan's bones and all of a sudden he's whole again. O...kay. And why did Faust wait until now to bring Dan back to life if it was ostensibly that easy?

Additionally, Nebiros's characterization is completely off. I'm not sure when he became sort of a generic devil figure--it may have been something I missed in the first three issues--but his dialogue is regardless terrible. "Now there's no way in hell you're gonna light those fires back up and spoil my chance at freedom. Satan's Trident packs quite a punch, Superman." "Faust, I stole your soul long ago! Now I'll take your flesh as well." What's this business about stealing souls? "No way in hell"? "Gonna"? heh. I know this sounds like nitpicking, but if Johns had taken twenty minutes to reread a few issues from BLUE DEVIL, he would have seen that Nebiros speaks nothing like this.

So, why am I forgiving of the flaws in this issue? Well, Geoff Johns--bad Nebiros dialogue notwithstanding--would appear to be a fan of the Blue Devil character. I'm assuming here from the tone of the comic book. I'm not sure why the Blue Devil of all people would be the deciding factor in a victory against Nebiros when they've got Superman, Kyle Rainer, and a handful of mystics, but...why not? I loved that Dan's first instinct upon his resurrection was to belt Nebiros in the jaw. It was a good touch, very in spirit with Dan's two-fisted, no nonsense, just-point-me-in-the-right-direction personality. Also, there's some hint of his relationship with Zatanna and Firestorm. I'm not sure why he was so understanding of Faust's evil deed in murdering the Enchantress, however. Typically Dan is the first guy in the room to impulsively jump to conclusions. And yet, that scene somehow didn't seem necessarily out of character. Possibly because of Dan's generally relaxed attitude toward mainstream superhero sensibilities, and all that entails moralitywise. Or it could simply be a sign that Dan has seen so much crazy shit since becoming the Blue Devil that nothing really surprises him anymore.

But I don't feel that I've infused this write-up with enough negative energy, so let me further nitpick. There's something that sticks in my craw about this resurrection, and it isn't really Johns's fault, but what the hell? Let's blame him anyway. This all goes back to Mark Waid and the introduction of the new and improved Blue Devil as an angsty demon. But the guy was dead so as the writer of the resurrection issue, you basically have carte blanch, at least as far as I'm concerned. This seems like a perfect opportunity to eliminate the whole "true demon" thing. At least, that's what I would have done. Granted, I hate what Mark Waid did and would preferably retcon that entirely out of existence, but at the very least, I'd have put him back in the devil costume. Sure, it wouldn't have made a lot of sense, but then again, does anything in comic books? Seriously. It's just a matter of how creative you're willing to be in the rationalization.

So that's what I would have done. What did Johns do? Maybe change his costume around a bit and give him a new trident which gives him "magical powers", now making him effectively even less the goofy special effects guy he used to be. Not the way I would have handled it, but hey! Maybe it will work. We'll see. I tend to go in for the belief that a good writer can work with anything, so depending on whoever chooses to write the next title starring or featuring or containing the Blue Devil in guest appearances, we may get some really fantastic characterisation or some really awful characterisation. My feeling, however, is that it is easier to tell really awful stories about characters when they move further away from their humanity.

And of course, this is all beside the fact that I do not really think anybody at DC truly understands heroes of the Blue Devil's ilk anymore. Perhaps the character is a relic of a bygone era. Maybe he should have remained dead. Glad he's back, but it all kind of depends on what DC decides to do with him.

But anyway...I did rather enjoy seeing the fun-loving Dan Cassidy back in action and even though I found parts of the issue disjointed and corny, it scores major points for bringing back this page's namesake.

What did you think? Let me know and I'll print it here.


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