Shadowpact: Farewell to the Magic   Leave a comment

I picked up the most recent Shadowpact comic the other day and read through it.  It was the end of a three-part storyline which, in reality, had been building for just over two years since the series started.  I read it, and was happy with the ending.  I couldn’t wait to see where the next issue was going, so I quickly jumped to the back page and discovered, sadly, that the series was ending with the issue I was holding.  I was disheartened.  It was a good group and didn’t deserve to end, in my opinion.  Still, I suppose three years isn’t a bad run for any comic project.  Oh, and for the record: Spoilers Ahead!

The Start

I suppose we owe it all to Identity Crisis, and the events that Sue Dibny’s death triggered (but then again, pretty much every “major event” in DC currently can be traced back to either Sue Dibny’s death or Crisis on Infinite Earths, with a few exceptions.)  After Identity Crisis but before Infinite Crisis, DC released 4 6-issue mini-series’ that dealt with a certain aspect of the DCU.  The OMAC Project covered the main superheroes all struggling with Batman’s Brother Eye being seized by Maxwell Lord and Checkmate.  The Rann-Thanagar War dealt with DC’s space heroes like Adam Strange in a war between two planets (guess their name!)  Villains United featured villains who united…and some that didn’t.  And finally, Day of Vengeance featured The Spectre, probably the most powerful mystical entity among DC’s heroes, going crazy and trying to wipe out magic.  Some of the magical heroes who were trying to survive decided to be offensive instead of defensive, and eventually they began to refer to themselves as Shadowpact.

The Shadowpact included a lot of, let’s be honest, people that weren’t well known by many.  Some of you may recall the glory days of Detective Chimp, but I sure didn’t.  They were a ragtag group of nobodies, and in true fantasy story fashion they meshed as a group and managed to defeat Spectre (by calling in help from Captain Marvel, Black Alice, the Phantom Stranger and Dr. Fate.  …but they still won!)

After the mini-series concluded and Infinite Crisis began, DC decided that Day of Vengeance (along with the other three mini-storylines that led up to it) deserved some one-shots.  The Shadowpact returned, along with a ludicrous number of other magical heroes to help repair the Rock of Eternity after it detonated over Gotham (non-DC fans will rejoice that I finally referred to something that they might’ve heard of there.)  Aided by these new helpers, the clean up consisted of searching for the Seven Deadly Sins who were held captive in the Rock of Eternity (Captain Marvel fans could supply more details on just what they were doing there.)

The Restart

After Infinite Crisis, DC moved to something called One Year Later: all the major comics jumped ahead by a full year with very little explanation for the many various changes.  The explanations came from a year-long weekly series called 52, a title that had many possible meanings depending on how you looked at it (though only one off-screen reason, being the number of weeks in a year.)  Many new comic books were introduced (and many were axed) around that time, including (surprise of all surprises) a comic book for the Shadowpact!

Now, as much a fan as I was of their Day of Vengeance adventures, and as much as I love the series looking back as a whole, I have to tell ya…those first few stories in the Shadowpact series were rough.  I mean, the basic summaries of those stories look okay on paper, but when reading the first few issues I was disheartened.  Not only was the writing suddenly campy, and not only did a few of the members lose their awesome costumes for something more generically suggestive of magic superheroes (I really missed Enchantress’ big green witch hat, that thing was awesome.  And I loved Detective Chimp’s trenchcoat and hat, I’m glad they brought those back a bit), but to top it all off the first issue had something of a continuity error by supposedly taking place during the start of the year of 52, but featuring a cameo of Superman who was supposedly not going to be doing his heroic duties that year.

The stories progressed, however, and started to improve.  They never quite regained the tight writing of the Day of Vengeance series, but there was a lot going on worth noting: Blue Devil’s relationship with his brother Jack, the masterminding (mastermindedness?  Mastermentalics?) of Dr. Gotham (yes, yes, I know…), the Sun King’s gradual rise to the center of the action…if it hadn’t been a full-fledged series with a non-specific ending, I think that the writing would have been as tight as it was in Day of Vengeance since the writer wouldn’t have needed to stretch it out for so long.

The Startling Conclusion

And then, all of a sudden, it was over.  I’m torn.  On the one hand, I liked the series and think that it had a lot of promise for the future.  On the other hand, it ended before it had any realyl bad moments (unless you count the first few issues as bad, something which I’m not quite willing to do.)

It also feels weird because I can say that I have every official Shadowpact book in its entirety, from Day of Vengeance #1 to Shadowpact #25.  I don’t think I have all of their random cameos (like that one issue of Robin that just had them randomly showing up,) but I have most of them, I’m pretty sure.

Anyway, I’m glad that the team didn’t disband or anything.  They’re still out there, facing Magical enemies in the DCU.  And the story’s conclusion effectively proved that the Shadowpact needs to continue, otherwise the Sun King’ll be on the rise again, no pun intended.  Given the nature of upstart hotshot writers and editors to “revive” things, I’ve got a feeling that we’ll see the Shadowpact again sometime in the future.

But until then, to any of their other fans out there who always looked forward to that monthly meeting of the magic heroes who worked out of the Oblivion Bar, let’s raise a well deserved glass for the Shadowpact.

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