(September 2006)


"The (Short) Year of Living Dangerously"

Writer/Cover Artist: Bill Willingham
Artist: Cory Walker
Colorist: Chris Chuckry
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Assoc. Editor: Michael Wright
Editor: Joey Cavalieri


As the story picks up, Shadowpact are immobilized in red jelly-bean-like containment spells crafted by Strega, leader of the Pentacle. All of Shadowpact, that is, except for Detective Chimp, who with his super-human strength has broken the restraints in which he found himself fettered at the end of the previous issue. He beats the snot out of Karnevil.

Meanwhile the White Rabbit has gotten a case of scruples (he finds Strega's murdering spree ungentlemanly and impersonal) and elects on his own to release Shadowpact from the containment matrix (Note to Strega: never let a pasty British dude hold the key to your containment matrix). Enchantress blasts him for his trouble and then pep talks the team into putting on their game faces and fighting dirty. Blue Devil, Ragman, and Nightshade take out [Jack of Fire] and then Nightshade literally wraps up Bagman and Sister Shadow.

On the outside of the giant blood bubble, Witchfire and Rex the Wonder Dog witness the bubble finally crack, and Shadowpact emerge with full beards (the male members, that is). Enchantress explains that after tapping in to Strega's powers remotely, in order to circumvent the containment spell enveloping Riverrock, which would normally require some number of human sacrifices, Enchantress instead took a year from the life of everybody in town. But because of "some weird feedback" a year actually passed all at once within the bubble.



This comic benefits from having an extremely clever conclusion in the method whereby Enchantress "cheats" Strega's spell and thus also allows the series to account for DC's One Year Later time progression necessitated by their 52 series. Bravo, Bill Willingham! However, while your artist accurately drew bushy beards on all the men in town, he left Nightshade's legs curiously smooth. But I can forgive him this, since I'd just as soon not know what a year without shaving a woman's legs would look like. Also, she's magical so...anything's possible I guess. Insert your own solution to this quandary here.

Somewhat regrettably the rest of the story doesn't really live up to the genius of Willingham's final twist, though it's okay. Mostly this installment suffers from a rather hasty wrapping up of the Pentacle team. While we do get a two-page fight of sorts with Jack of Fire, the other members (Karnevil and White Rabbit are already down at this point), Bagman and Sister Shadow, are both immobilized in a single page—Nightshade contains them in boxes of solid shadow. This especially seems like a cheat in the case of Sister Shadow since...doesn't she tap into the same shadow force that Nightshade does?

Oh yeah—and Strega just disappears.

Also, as to the escape of Detective Chimp, is it actually true that "chimpanzees are many times stronger than the strongest normal human"? Maybe it is. I never thought about it. Pretty clever, I guess, and I did like the scene in which he pounds living hell out of Karnevil, monkey style.

As to the mystery of Jack of Fire, discussed in [SHADOWPACT No. 2], this comic book provides no answers. The Blue Devil mentions again that he has no recollection of an older brother, but surprisingly, neither does he have memory of a little sister, would think that he should have since she was actually referenced a number of times in the BLUE DEVIL series and even showed up later on as a recurring character. But with the Crisis on Infinite Earths and Superboy punching reality in Infinte Crisis, who the hell knows anymore?

This page last updated 24 July 2006.

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