Friday, June 03, 2005

SPOILER Review: DAY OF VENGEANCE #2

In the second issue of DC’s mystical INFINITE CRISIS lead-in mini-series, we are treated to much of the same: Willingham’s skilled pacing and slightly disjointed dialogue, Justiano’s detailed pencil only improved by Walden Wong’s inks, and a story as big as it gets propelled forward by protagonists almost as insignificant as they get. DAY OF VENGEANCE #2 is a good book -- a fine read and certainly well put together, but it isn’t particularly exceptional and, moreover, it has some flaws that I just can’t ignore.

First, the rundown:

The Specter, host-less, is in full mad vengeance mode, having murders feasted on by crows (while still alive), killing adulterers with their own sweaty sheets, and impaling a tax cheat with a giant pen. It wouldn’t be so bad that the Specter lost its mind, except that it seems to have maintained its libido, as the Jean Loring Eclipso has seduced the Specter into hunting down and destroying all magic and magicians as the source of evil in the world. The premise isn’t particularly sound, I know, but it works in the same way that every other big comics event works: if you suspend you disbelief and turn your brain down to 4 or so, you can accept it just for the fun of the ride. This isn’t really a condemnation, so much as a sigh of acceptance: more can be done to make these things believable and entertaining. But, alas, that is neither here nor there.

The small group of never-has-beens, led by Detective Chimp and including such mystical luminaries as the Enchantress, Ragman, Blue Devil, and some guy who I am *still* not sure who he is, spends a lot of tiem time talking in the back room of an one-dimensional bar, trying to figure out how to beat the Specter. In the meantime, the Specter unleashes divine (infernal?) vengeance on mystical powerhouses the Phantom Stranger and Dr. Fate. I really don’t know which category Madam Xanadu falls in, but I really don’t think it matters. One interesting development in all this is the revelation that Enchantress knows and awful lot about what has happened and is happening, and is able to get into Eclipso’s mind. One wonders if that is a spell, or if the Enchantress *is* Eclipso/Loring and we are going to see a big traitor reveal by issue #6. It wouldn’t be the first, and it would go a long way to explain things (outside the inherent deus ex machina that is magic in general in the DCU).

Eventually our heroes leave the bar for the woods, talk a whole lot more, and Enchantress gives ragman a gun to kill her with, “just in case”. Ragman, in return, gives her a kiss, which was most definitely misplaced. It is the one true spot of characterization in the whole book and it wasn’t just funny, but kind of sad: who hasn’t made a move based on a few misinterpreted signals? Ragman declines the gun, by the way, and offers a much more horrible fate: Enchantress can spend her period of penance as one of the patches in his rags, should she go bad. More fuel for my little conspiracy theory, I’d say.

They eventually track down their prey in the mystic forest going toe to toe with Captain Marvel, aka Billy Batson, aka the World’s Mightiest Mortal, aka the Guy Who Laid Out Superman With a Magic Punch. Cap doesn’t seem to be fairing too well, so being smart C-listers, the heroes decide to attack Eclipso instead, hoping to defeat her before the Specter is no longer distracted by Captain Marvel. This is, of course, where we finish up.

Overall, it is a good story. However, it still vexes me that Willingham can’t be bothered to explain who all of the admittedly little-known characters are. People -- like me -- are going to be picking this up just because it says INFINITE CRISIS on the cover, people who don’t know DC’s mystical characters, even people who don’t know DC at all. “Every issue is someone’s first,” they say. Most of the INFINITE CRISIS stuff is like this -- with the exception of THE OMAC PROJECT -- unfortunately, targeted at DC fans rather than comic readers of all stripes. The other real problem I have with the book is for the amount of dialogue, we don’t get a lot of information, just a lot of talking. Which is fine, and can be fun, but there is information that needs told, especially regarding the characters but also assuming *someone* is reading only this lead-in mini-series.

DAY OF VENGEANCE #2 gets a 7, on the low side.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Jeffrey said...

I dropped DoV as of #2. This miniseries is about as impenetrable as it gets. It's very frustrating, because the first issue had potential, and I really want to like it. Obviously, it's written for DC fanboys who know every nook and cranny of their universe, even the obscure bits.

Oh well. I still have OMAC and Villains United.

7:01 PM  

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