Review: Reign in Hell #1

by

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One of my pet loves in the literary world is the mystical and demonic. There is nothing quite like a well told, not too anti-Christian, believable mystical story. Gaiman did it so well with American Gods, and Joss Whedon did the campy just as well with Buffy and Angel. But one of the better portrayals of the mystical universe has always stemmed from DC’s line of mystical and magical characters.

RIH_Cv1_REV_solicit.jpgMy first real introduction into their world came through Day of Vengeance, the Infinite Crisis tie-in of 2005. This spawned Shadowpact, and told a great story about one of my favorite characters, the Spectre.

The first issue of Reign in Hell, a Final Crisis tie-in, though just how it’ll actually tie-in I’ve no idea, seems to continue the story of Shadowpact.  Though they play a small role in this particular issue, they are definitely going to be playing a larger role soon.

The issue starts out with an attack on Hell, or more specifically, an attack on The Odium, the Second Province of the Infernal Dominion – or as you and I know it- Purgatory. Keith Giffen, writing his heart out, has a real grasp of this fictional realm of hell, and the different levels, areas, and villains that inhabit the underworld. It is a well thought out approach to a location that has been visited numerous times by DC’s characters.

The first few pages are a muddy battle, a bit hard to follow, though humorous when we see one of the overseers of The Odium being put “on hold” as he is trying to gain instructions. Readers are soon find themselves confronted with Satanus and the Lady Blaze, who are responsible for the attack on Purgatory.

Pandemonia, the First Province of the Infernal Dominion, home to Neron and Mother Lilith is also under attack. In attendance also are the Archfield Asmodel and Belial. Neron quickly commands Asmodel to retake the Odium, and then commands Mother Lilith, Mother of all Atrocities, to call her children home.

A quick rendezvous with Zatarra and Zauriel, heading up the Hell resistance, and Shadowpact trying to take out Linda Danvers. Things are not going so well for Shadowpact, Linda is mysteriously taken. Enchantress announces that “hell recalled her”, speaking of Danvers, and that “hell is calling in debts owed.”  The end of this story shows us six panels, with known and lesser known magical or mystical characters from the DCU being ridden of their mystical counterparts.

But it’s not over – this is a 40-page issue, as readers are treated to a duo we haven’t seen since the end of 52 – Doctor Occult speaking with Ralph and Sue Dibny, now ghost detectives. They alert Doctor Occult to what is happening in hell, and that he will have to play his part.

I’m really interested to see more of Doctor Occult’s story, because I have not encountered him much, and he seems – just in this little story – very interesting.

If he could be criticized for anything, Keith Giffen may suffer from being a little long winded. There is a lot of dialogue, and I mean a lot. For me, someone who reads the comics for the stories, this is less of a problem. But there will be those who cry foul at the amount of dialogue that Giffen puts in to this first issue.

On top of that, the art from Tom Derenick and the inks from Bill Sienkiewicz, don’t help with the amount of dialogue we’re dealing with. I love the artwork in the first half, I truly do, but the combination of this type of dark and line heavy artwork, underneath the sheer weight of all the dialogue does hinder the enjoyment a little.

Overall, Reign in Hell gets 3 out of 5 from me. I absolutely love what is happening, and I just can’t wait to see where this goes. More of the mystical and the magical is what I want, but preferably a little less dialogue, or cleaner art.

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