Friday, January 13, 2012

Crisis Update: Day of Vengeance

Crisis Update
Volume 1, Entry 3

Day of Vengeance
Bill Willingham - Writer
Justiniano - Pencils

Magic has always been a major part of the DC universe. Characters like Doctor Fate, Zatanna and Captain Marvel have long provided a supernatural element to comics that often brings more complex story lines and challenges. Unlike heroes (or villains) whose powers are derived from their physiology or science, magic wielders have an air of mystery about them simply because magic has no base in laws of physics, on our world or otherwise, meaning that even those who can use magic barely know where it comes from.

Which makes Day of Vengeance one of the more interesting titles of the four lead-up mini series to Infinite Crisis. The Spectre - God's 'Hand of Vengeance' - has gone rogue without a human host, vowing to destroy all magic thereby ridding the world of evil. To combat this massive assault on the world of magic, six magic-based heroes come together to form the Shadowpact, a name revealed to have been used throughout the history of the DC universe whenever magic is gravely threatened.

The members of the Shadowpact are lesser-known characters in DC's lineup, including the most recognizable, Blue Demon, a bouncer turned demon; Ragman, a 'Spectre-lite' tool of justice who can absorb the worst of sinners into his cloak of patched rags, allowing them to lend their spiritual help to Ragman in exchange for getting a little closer to salvation; Nightshade, a girl who can control darkness; Nightmaster, the owner of Oblivion Bar, an inter-dimensional bar that caters to magic folk, and the wielder of the mystical Sword of Night; Enchantress, a powerful magic user who can turn evil if overwhelmed by magical energy; and Detective Chimp, given his intelligence by the Fountain of Youth. Because these characters were rarely used before Day of Vengeance, Bill Willingham was able to pen a tale that didn't need to rely too much on retconned history beyond the Spectre's situation.

It is revealed early on in the plot that Eclipso, taking control of Jean Loring (the Atom's ex-wife who murdered Elongated Man's wife, Sue Dibny, in the pages of Identity Crisis), desires revenge on the world of magic and persuades the Spectre that magic equals chaos, and chaos equals evil. Without a human host to provide compassion and logic, the Ghost of Vengeance begins a genocide of magic users across the DC universe.

Midway through the series, a massive battle between the Spectre and Captain Marvel erupts. As the champion of the wizard Shazam, Marvel is the best equipped to confront the Spectre, but Shazam's power is dwarfed by the Spectre's nigh-godliness. Like I mentioned earlier, magic in the DC universe is such a bounty for storytelling because it doesn't have set parameters or limitations. As Marvel starts to falter, Enchantress channels all the magical energy left in the universe directly through her and into Marvel, causing him to balloon in size and power to match the Spectre and level the playing field a bit more.

Of course, their brawl is only the halfway point in Day of Vengeance.

So as not to give away the entire plot, I'll just say that Willingham manages to pull a few more tricks out of his sleeve for the rest of the series. The only part of Day of Vengeance that irked by a bit was the pacing. Almost opposite of it's sister series, The O.M.A.C. Project, DoV seems to pack as much plot as it can into six issues. Willingham could have given the Spectre/Captain Marvel battle three whole issues and it would have been just as good. By the end, readers have an excellent set-up for Infinite Crisis as well as an awesome new magic team, the Shadowpact.

Grade: B+

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