SHADOWPACT No. 5
"One Year Later"
|Assoc. Editor:||Michael Wright|
|Cover Art:||Steve Scott & Wayne Faucher|
It's One Year Later™ and Shadowpact are cleaning up their mess in Riverrock, Wyoming, where they've just defeated the Pentacle. [Jack of Fire] gets a one-way trip back to Hell courtesy of the once-again-functional Trident of Lucifer, while his teammates earn a term of incarceration at Joshua Coldrake's Dark Tower in the Dark Tower dimension. Coldrake is a master of anti-magic, bound to the tower for a millenia or so, and he takes care of the mystically dampened inmates, including the Warlock's Daughter (Johnny Warlock that is), Laura Fell.
Shadowpact dropped Fell off here about a year ago promising to come back for her, but they're a little late for the rendezvous owing to having just lost a year. Unfortunately, she's SOL for now, because Shadowpact haven't made arrangements to bring her back yet. They promise to return.
Returning to their own dimension, Shadowpact (with Rex the Wonder Dog in tow) discover that they've been memorialized in their absence (presumed death). More than that, [Blue Devil's] apartment has been rented, Ragman's shop has been foreclosed upon, Nightshade's mom...well, she's still dead, and Nightmaster's Oblivion Bar and Inn is under new management by telekinetic flipper-boy Eddie Deacon.
To make matters worse, unbeknownst to the team, Strega, leader of the Pentacle, has woken her master, who has been sleeping beneath Gotham for forty millenia and now calls himself Doctor Gotham. He senses that this incarnation of Shadowpact was probably created to stop him from bringing the Sun King over, so he orders Strega to throw every available asset at them.
The first assassination attempt is made upon Ragman, but he's got it covered. Unable to add her to his rag suit, he just brute forces her through a brick wall. That's the Gotham way!
Blue Devil: Go directly to Hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars.
Detective Chimp: (discussing the transient nature of doors to the Oblivion Bar) Remember when it was little Timmy Lipman's closet door for a few hours? Boy, did he see some strange comings and goings that night. That's one poor kid who'll never believe monsters don't live in his closet.
Blue Devil: You rented my apartment, Mrs. Cohen?
Mrs. Cohen: They said you were dead.
Blud Devil: And what about my stuff? What did you do with my stuff?
Mrs. Cohen: What stuff, Danny? You didn't have practically nothing! Your clothes were rags, your TV didn't work and all of your dishes were what I lent you.
Blue Devil: Even if it was junk, it was still mine—the part that was mine anyway.
Solid installment. There's quite a lot going on here, as Bill Willingham sets up everything you will need to know for the next ten or more issues. To be sure, if you missed this one, do try to find a reading copy, as it is at this juncture that the series begins to get consistently interesting. It is with issue five that you begin to get the lay of the land as Willingham throws a few new and curious concepts at us, such as Coldrake's Tower and Laura Fell (I guess this is baggage from Willingham's run on ROBIN, but I haven't read that), Doctor Gotham and the Breed Building, and Eddie, the new Head Cook and Bottle Washer at the Oblivion Bar.
It has been about a year since I read this (yes, I am a lazy SOB), and my estimation of this title has risen since then, so it is a bit difficult to recall my initial impressions of this particular installment. The pacing is tricky, and you might be wondering at this point when it will truly kick into high gear. The answer: well, it never really does kick into high gear.
I say this despite the fact that this very issue concludes with a neat fight sequence and that successive issues feature yet even more fighting. The action scenes never quite take the turns that you think they will, however, and with all the bouncing back and forth between plot lines, the pacing sometimes seems intentionally off-kilter, as though Willingham really doesn't want you focusing too much on any one thing in particular. I wasn't quite sold on this approach a year ago, but now I consider it to be one of SHADOWPACT's strengths. It is making good use out of the serial nature of comics to create a sort of soap opera. The story of these characters never really ends, which is why the conclusions to individual issues often feel as though they're merely convenient stopping points rather than dramatic cliff-hangers.
By the way, can anybody identify the assassin who takes on Ragman? Is she a pre-existing character, or merely a one-off baddie? Drop me an [e-mail] if you know anything.
This page last updated 13 September 2007.
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