SHADOWPACT No. 14
"Quitter!": Part One of "The Redemption Contract"
|Asst. Editor:||Stephanie Buscema|
|Cover Art:||Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher
Colored by Mike Atiyeh
It's throw-down time at the Oblivion Bar and Grill. Oh...no grill? Well, just bar then. Zauriel vs. [Blue Devil], mano a mano, the thrill to implement God's Will. You get the point.
Carrying out his heaven-sent mandate from [SHADOWPACT No. 13], Zauriel brings his beef to Shadowpact's favorite haunt looking for the demon that has done so much good work making Hellish bargains seem the "with it" thing to do: your hero and mine, Dan Cassidy, the Blue Devil. The brawl for it all lasts about one second before Oblivion's friendly barkeep locks a Darth Vader-style telepathic death grip on Z and B's esophagi, so the fight is taken outside.
But Zauriel's heart isn't really in it, and once Blue Devil hears the charges against him, he realizes that he hasn't got a leg to stand on and submits meekly to his demise. But given a reprieve by the archangel, he does what any good spokesperson would do: he holds a press conference. To be sure, he sullenly gives himself a thorough lambasting for his decisions in life, and concludes that you can't do good by doing evil. Confession out of the way, a lawyer in attendance wants to make a legal case out of Hell's failure to honor the terms of Daniel Cassidy's Faustian contract.
Zauriel and Blue Devil retire to the Oblivion Bar where the latter announces to his Shadowpact cronies that the only acceptable option for him is to quit the team until he can clean up his mess, if he can ever clean it up. None to happy about it, the other members of Shadowpact concede to his desire but draft Zauriel as a temporary replacement.
Back on Earth, Doctor Gotham shrinks down to thumbnail size to chat up his buddy the Sun King, who is still calling that candle flame his crib. The little fire dude, worried that Shadowpact might screw up his plans for the "New Sunrise", orders the Doctor to call them out, which Gotham does by taking a space hop from his HQ at the Breed Building in Gotham to Chicago where he finds a bus full of school kids to hold hostage.
Nightmaster: Until further notice, Zauriel, you're now in Shadowpact.
Detective Chimp: No way, boss! We hate this guy!
At this juncture, there isn't a whole lot for me to say. Having gotten behind in my updates, I'm doing this write-up after [SHADOWPACT No. 16] has already hit the stands, so I'm privy to where all of this is leading (though "The Redemption Contract" hasn't wrapped up yet), but this issue on its own is nothing more or less than another perfectly fine installment in this increasingly idiosyncratic superhero magazine.
Bill Willingham isn't feeling particularly rushed about it, but he does build his dramatic arc steadily. At this point, however, he seems more interested in telling stories about the characters, themselves, than about conventional superheroics, so the high action sequences, which are few and far between, tend to function as narrative joints for the interlocking of character pieces rather than serving, necessarily, great dramatic purpose in and of themselves. And that's fine. Nobody is watching this one for the fights—though they have been handled cleverly. Rather, if you're still in it at at this point, it is probably safe to presume that you enjoy Bill Willingham's quirkier and more whimsical turns.
As I perceive it, Willingham is sort of cruising on autopilot here. There aren't any bad ideas, and he hits all the marks he sets out for his characters, but he could probably do this sort of thing in his sleep. There is enough to consistently pique the curiosity of the monthly faithful, but I don't think he's going to win any converts to the Shadowpact readership without a big idea to make his team seem like more than simply a random collection of weirdo third-stringers that he could get his hands on. Don't get me wrong, I like it (it's a four-out-of-five-star comic for me). I'm simply not sure there's anything magical to Willingham's strange brew of ideas and players to commend it to a cynical non-reader.
I did enjoy that Zauriel's fight with Blue Devil lasted all of two punches before they both sort of sheepishly left the bar, both wishing they could be somewhere else. This is probably the best that Dan Cassidy has been portrayed in a long time. I love that he's not interested in mixing it up, but is like, "Well, I guess if I have to..."
Early on in this series I wasn't quite sure that Willingham totally grasped the character, but I think he's got a pretty sure hand on the reigns at this point, and I think Mishkin, Cohn, and Cullins would probably agree.
This page last updated 10 September 2007.
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