Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Got to believe in magic (and a talking chimp)

Written by Judd Winnick and Bill Willingham; Art by Justiniano, Ron Randall & Walden Wong; Cover by Walter Simonson

This is the Empire Strikes Back of the Countdown titles. That ending leaves a bitter, gnawing, coppery aftertaste. I've got to stop saying this but this is the best. Tha bomb.

The first part collects ACTION COMICS #826, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #639 and SUPERMAN #216. Eclipso's re-introduction into the DCU begins with multiple suicides. Tingle much. Then, the hunt for the perfect host. The super host. Winnick keeps it bare and simple --- Super Eclipso and Captain Marvel's slug fest is a blur of bloodied knuckles and power punches. Action porn adrenalin. I like how everything feels (reads) loud all through out until you reach the last panel. All the pumped up rage ends with a whisper to the Spectre's ear: Magic is evil. And you know he believes it. Duhn-duhn.

Day of Vengeance. The Spectre is determined to destroy everything and everyone magical, and it's up to the Shadowpact (Enchantress, Ragman, Blue Devil, Nightmaster, Nightshade, and Detective Chimp) to stop his bloody rampage. And they don't. Not completely. Which is the magic of this book. Willingham is in his element, and he has never been as inspired, as surprising in his writing as in this one. Alternately funny (the Enchantress/Ragman flirting, and always the detective chimp) and scary, with back stories that don't actually bore. Sure, Captain Marvel is still a stiff, but this is not his story. Much like Villains United, the anti-hero heroes are likely to plan screwed-up plans, are likely to panic and fumble, are likely to try harder to save the world. Black Alice was supposed to be the deal-breaker, and when that plan didn't work, there was nothing left to do but to fight. Blindly. Ten kinds of dead meat but you gotta love them for trying.

And I'm off to get the Shadowpact title. ****

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