picon.jpgreviewbubble.jpg“He Doesn’t Have to Shoot You Now.”
“He Does SO Have to Shoot Me Now!”

Oh Shadowpact, your wacky adventures and skewed continuity have readers split on whether or not they should love you or hate you. Issue six kicks off a new storyline, but has Shadowpact gone to the dogs?

cover.jpgShadowpact #6: The Wild Hunt
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Cory Walker
Colorist: Mike Atiyeh

I’m a big fan of Bill Willingham. I would go so far as to put Willingham into my top ten list of writers – ever. I followed his career starting from his work in the D&D Manuals, over to Coventry, Ironwood, through the fantastic run of Clockwork Storybook, into the equally brilliant Fables, Robin, Jack of Fables, and finally into Shadowpact (I totally missed out on the Elementals run). Everyone is allowed a stumble every once in a while, and after following the adventures of the Shadowpact for six issues, I think Willingham has found his snag.

But this is the weird part; half of the issue has really brilliant moments that make me want to rush out and pick up the next issue, while the other half of the issue is filled with cornball dialogue. After reading the issue I get the distinct impression Bill spent a great deal of time on the brilliant parts and phoned in the rest in an attempt to get his other titles finished by deadline.

The issue starts off in Gotham City with Ragman and Enchantress putting the kibosh on Blue Moon’s latest rampage. See, Blue Moon gets her powers from the light of the Moon; the phases of the Moon affect her power level, and she is pretty worthless in direct sunlight. This makes it rather easy to capture and lock her away, and since she pays for her crimes, Ragman can’t absorb her into his suit.

As the press hounds the duo, a rift of some sort opens spilling a pack of demon dogs into the streets. Leading the hounds is a fellow calling himself the Wild Huntsman, who looks a lot like Legolas.

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As expected a fight breaks out, with Wild Huntsman eventually taking the pair down. Wild – can I call him Wild, or do I need to call him Wild Huntsman? Wild has magic collars, that when placed on his victims, turns them into his demon dogs.

Meanwhile, we catch up with Nightmaster and Detective Chimp at the Oblivion Bar. Last issue, Jim Rook (Nightmaster) and DC returned to the bar, only to discover someone else has taken over the place while the Shadowpact was trapped in the blood bubble for the year.

The new owner, Edward Deacon has a deformity that caused his drug addicted mother to sell him to a freak show as a small child. It is the exchange between Rook and Deacon, that Willingham’s writing shines the most. Everything is snappy, witty, and spot on for the characters.

As a Deacon tells his story of living with the troop, he tells Rook of an encounter he had with Batman some years ago that sent him on a path to be a better person. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the Batman reference struck a chord in me that reminded me of the Batman: The Animated Series episode called Sideshow in which Batman comes across a group of retired circus freaks while tracking Killer Croc. In this story, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. If it was indeed a nod to that classic animated story, then kudos to Willingham for that.

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Deacon studied and learned magic from the masters, allowing him to move object near him with ease. He ended up using these new found powers to mix drinks at bars…ummm… yeah…

Because Shadowpact had been presumed dead, Deacon used his lock picking skills to break into the Oblivion Bar and reopen it under new management. The upshot of this part of the story is left unresolved, but it looks like Deacon will be a regular for a while.

Back in Gotham… No, really, that is one of the tags actually used to jump us back and forth from one location to another.

Anyway, before the fight with Wild started, Enchantress sent out a distress signal. Unfortunately, by the time Blue Devil and Nightshade arrive, there is no way for them to know their comrades have been turned into giant puppies.

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Care to take a guess if this is the good dialogue or the bad?

Blue Devil whips out his trident and blasts Wild Huntsman to hell – fight over. Kind of anti-climactic.

Enchantress and Ragman hang around in their dog forms hoping Blue Devil and Nightshade will see their uniforms on the ground in front of them and put two and two together.

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Not the smartest devil in the bunch is he?

Back at the Oblivion…

Jim and Detective Chimp will continue to use the Oblivion Bar as their base of operations, but before they take on another assignment, the team needs some work.

The issue ends with Blue Devil, Nightshade and doggy Ragman and doggy Enchantress entering the bar, setting us up for the next issue.

After six issues, I’m still split on this title. The first four issues were gruelingly painful to get through, while issue five was not bad at all. Issue six has me split. On the one hand I like the general premise. The setup of the Oblivion Bar reminds me a lot of Doyle’s from Clockwork Storybook, and I enjoy seeing Nightmaster, Detective Chimp, and Deacon. In fact, I like all of the members of Shadowpact.

My biggest hang up is the team hasn’t found their direction; their reason for being a team. It’s kind of like when you go to a party of a friend of a friend. As long as you are with the mutual friend, chatting with others is okay, but the moment the mutual friend leaves, there is that feeling of, “Ummm… well…”
“Yeah…”
“Well okay then…”
“…”
“…”
“So…”

Other than fighting the Spectre in Day of Vengeance, there is an awkwardness that is uncomfortable.

As much as I like Willingham’s writing, and Walker’s art, I have to give Shadowpact #6 an uncomfortable 2 Stars.

2stars.jpg

Discuss this issue in the Major Spoilers Forum.

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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3 Comments

  1. November 4, 2006 at 9:17 am — Reply

    I have to agree. The first issue was very interesting, and set up a premise that sorta-kinda paid off. In fact, the first issue reminded me of nothing so much as Willingham’s Elementals, then there was a weird patch. The time-space continuum gaps are troubling, leaving that little voice in the back of your head asking “What order did this happen in?”

    Much like Star Trek movies, the even numbered ones have pretty much bombed for me, while the odd numbers have worked, to varying degrees. All in all, you were kinder to issue six than I would have been…

    • Conrad
      October 3, 2012 at 7:36 am — Reply

      As always, your mileage may vary, but you’re the only person I’ve ever met who prefers Star Trek 1 and 3 (truly terrible movies) over Wrath of Khan.

      • October 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm — Reply

        You actually have my statement backward, there…

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