SHADOWPACT No. 17
"Protégés": Part One of "Darkness and Light"
|Asst. Editor:||Stephanie Buscema|
|Cover Art:||Doug Braithwaite
Colored by Alex Sinclair
Yes, when in doubt, throw in some zombies. The book opens upon [Shadowpact] members Nightmaster, Enchantress, Zauriel, Ragman, and Nightshade mid-huddle with a mob of zombies closing in for midnight snackies. Enchantress offs the houngan (Voodoo priest) controlling them, but the wild magic in the world means that the rules have been tossed out the window, and the zombies are unaffected, leaving Laura Fell, Warlock's Daughter, to haul their collective fat out of the fire with a dangerous spell.
Whatever you do, keep your eyes shut—don't look at the Ark!
Back at the Breed Building in Gotham, Doctor Gotham, still licking his wounds over [last issue's] trouncing and crying to the Sun King about it, asks the little fire guy for a loyal protégé. The Sun King gets all Minerva on him and pops a child out of Doc Gotham's brain, aging him to adulthood in a matter of seconds. The kid starts calling himself Devon and proceeds to haunt the Gotham night spots, scouring the city for women with magical potential on whom he can work his manly wiles, then feed to the Sun King.
Meanwhile, Nightmaster orders Enchantress to train Warlock's Daughter, though Enchantress isn't too crazy about the idea, so she kicks Laura's magical little tush and makes her cry in order to teach her a valuable lesson about believing in herself. Tough love, people. Tough love. This probably could have all been avoided had June Moon's mother simply breastfed her as a baby.
Concurrently, Nightmaster, Nightshade, and Ragman attempt a shadow jump through the Nightshade dimension, but instead find themselves trapped inside, with some zombie-looking mofos about to teach them a lesson. They look bad, but for all I know, maybe they're just Nightshade dimension Jehova's Witnesses or something.
And as the [Blue Devil] (remember him?) takes up a page to fight an army of Homo Magi, Laura Fell is sulking in the Oblivion Bar where Devon finds her. Dum dum dummmmm!
I think Doug Braithwaite is making up for all of the 1970s hard rock album covers he wasn't able to paint with this Blue Devil image at the left. By the way, I swear he used to go by Dougie Braithwaite. Am I making that up? Because if so, he totally needs to go back to Dougie. That's so much cuter.
SHADOWPACT No. 17 marks the departure of Bill Willingham as regular writer and the entrance of Matt Sturges, who appears to, at least, be writing the next handful of installments. Comic geek though I am, I've never heard of Matt Sturges before,1 so I haven't got a basis of comparison to know how this holds up to his other work. It also makes it difficult to really gauge how I feel about this installment in the SHADOWPACT series. After misjuding Willingham early on in his run, I'm loath to express any strong opinions at this juncture before I've seen where it is headed.
Sturges takes a somewhat darker approach to the characters than Willingham ever did. So instead of Doctor Gotham hanging out eating a corned beef sandwich, we get Doctor Gotham's brain exploding as a magic baby squirts out onto the floor in a pool of blood; or scenes like Gotham's son, Devon, coercing a woman into shoving a corkscrew through her eye socket into her brain.
Add to that that Braithwaite's art is much heavier and moodier than DC's superhero house style pencilling turned in by previous artist Tom Derenick, and it is clear that you have just witnessed a regime change on this book. I don't know that there's anything wrong with that, though I did enjoy the lighter take on Shadowpact's adventures offered by Bill Willingham, so the character and story dynamics seem a little wrong to me.
For example, June Moon, the Enchantress, has become totally insufferable, even sniping at Nightmaster more than a few times in this installment. Additionally, the pacing seems to have quickened, with Shadowpact bouncing from one adventure to another with little to no time to catch their breath or do stuff like hold press conferences.
There isn't anything particularly negative about any of it from a critical perspective, but I'm unsold at the moment. I'll wait it out.
From the perspective of the proprietor of this website, I'm slightly disappointed that the Blue Devil had only a page of panel time in this issue and that we find him mid-battle. I've seen the Blue Devil fight before, so I am more curious how he will use his brain to survive these supposedly nigh-unsurvivable trials.
This page last updated 24 September 2007.
1. Well, he has [his own website], actually, and he's the co-scripter of JACK OF FABLES, a comic I've always meant to check out, but as of yet, never have.
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