Shadowpact #23 Spoilers

I don’t know who writer Matthew Sturges is or what he’s done before (his bio is both out-of-date and remarkably vacant), but he’s making me miss Bill Willingham. Given that I find BW’s writing creepily conservative and anti-woman, that’s an accomplishment.

Shadowpact #23 cover

I’m looking at the latest issue of Shadowpact, a comic with an intriguing group of mystical grumpy characters that have been wasted in what is likely next on DC’s chopping block.

I’ve been a Blue Devil fan since the first issue of his series back in 1984. I learned to my regret that sometimes it’s better a character you love stay unpublished than return out-of-character in something like Underworld Unleashed. (When the biggest selling point for a crossover event is “hey, our printer discovered how to use a fifth color ink on their presses, so we’ve made our logo a disgusting shade of chartreuse!”, run.) I don’t even know how he came back from his death in the throwaway Starman #38.

Anyway, he’s been a member of this team since the beginning, although it’s not the hard-working, normal-guy-in-abnormal-circumstances Dan Cassidy I loved. This issue, it appears that someone, whether new writer or editorial influence, is forcibly jerking the team and series in a new direction. And BD’s the biggest casualty.

He’s been off-screen putting himself through thirteen labors in a bid to win freedom from having his soul sold by his brother to the devil. (I didn’t know someone else could make that deal for you.) There’s two pages of a dumb translation joke, then a lot of plot shortcutting. Apparently labors 7-13 aren’t worth talking about, then there’s a trial in hell (more entertaining when the Monkees did it over a harp), won by fiat.

The result is (and here’s where the real spoilers come in) — Danny’s no longer Blue Devil. He’s just a regular human. One on the one hand, that’s a nice rescue from a DCU that has little place left for non-traditional heroes and comics. On the other, I’m still sad to see him go … especially since it was so anti-climactic. On the same page his teammates find out about this, the Phantom Stranger appears to exposition the group into yet another battle … this time with two teams of characters no one knows or cares about.

So, am I the only one who’s going to miss Blue Devil? Did you think he was treated properly here?


15 Responses to “Shadowpact #23 Spoilers”

  1. rob Says:

    Sturges works with Willingham on Fables and Jack of Fables. They’re also collaborating on a new title called House of Mystery.

    I definitely prefer Willingham over Sturges, he doesn’t have as much to do with Fables and I enjoy that far more than Jack of Fables.

  2. Shawn Hill Says:

    I agree, Shadowpact has lost whatever interest it once held. Willingham is being really mistreated by DC these days, save for Vertigo, which understands him.

  3. James Schee Says:

    It certainly sounds like it sucks. Yet I’ve just decided that everything since his original series didn’t happen. If I never read it, it doesn’t count right?:)

    DC brought back the multiverse I think, so I’ll just assume that somewhere out there is a universe with the Blue Devil and his supporting cast still having adventures. Dart and the Atari Force out in space, etc. etc.

  4. Rob S. Says:

    I haven’t been reading Shadowpact for a little while, so I can’t speak to the development. But I’d note that there are two issues left before cancellation, and it’s a magic book, after all. I can’t imagine this won’t be undone sooner or later — possibly by Sturges himself.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Oh, it’s already been cancelled? I was just being snarky about that.

    James, smart approach. It only matters if you think it does.

  6. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    as Rob says, the cancellation’s been announced, so like many cancelled books, I would imagine that the planned storylines are being rushed to get everything in. I wish writers wouldn’t do that. it leaves such a bad taste in reader’s mouths. if they didn’t like the book, the rushed, weak final issues support the dislike. if you did like the book, it goes out on a sour note instead of focusing on what you liked about it to begin with. Sturges is not the writer Willingham is, and is relatively new at that, and I think he’s simply making a neophyte’s mistake in these last few issues.

    but it is best to simply read the original Blue Devil run and leave it at that. As with so many characters with a unique flavor, nobody’s really known what to do with Blue Devil since the original series/creators. But he’s such an impressive visual character that they keep bringing him back.

    I liked Shadowpact and kept in on my pull list to support it, but I can’t say that I’ll miss it much once it’s gone.

  7. Johanna Says:

    Excellent points. I wonder if, when books are cancelled, writers feel like they have to use the ideas/plans they’ve already thought up, or they’ll be wasted — the idea of reuse or rewriting is looked down on instead of being seen as creative talent.

    That apathy you mention is sort of how I feel about too many titles — I’ll read it if it’s around, but it’s not very memorable or worth seeking out or talking about. Which is a big shame.

  8. Evie Says:

    Willingham’s Shadowpact was one of my favorite titles for a while–these are potentially great characters, and Blue Devil was one of the best, a guy who overcame a lot of bad to do good, not to mention the source of a lot of the series’ humor (I’ll admit I haven’t read his old series, but now I will). I think because of that, I’ve just kept reading it under this forced “I like Shadowpact” frame of mind, when really it’s been sucking wind. Like, just moving sooo slooow and getting way off track. And now there’s no chance for an upswing. Sigh.

  9. James Schee Says:

    Yeah its worked out for me for the most part. Can sort of suck when a story I ignore becomes a part of something else I like.

    Recent Booster Gold storyline for instance, that I’ve been sort of flipping through. I just have such a hard time getting into since I ignored the story that started it. This makes it seem even stupider.

  10. Brooks Says:

    “Given that I find BW’s writing creepily conservative and anti-woman”

    I think I’ve noticied you saying this before, and I was just wondering if you provide an example of why you feel this way. Besides Fables and Proposition Player I have’nt read much of his other work. call me a dim bulb, but am I missing something in Fables? Or does this stem from work he’s done in the past like Elementals or Thessaly?

  11. Johanna Says:

    My opinions came after reading Proposition Player, Thessaly (in which the title character is marginalized in favor of a new male ghost), and Ironwood (in which he points out himself his poor treatment of the female characters in the ending). Then there’s the way Snow White has been turned from Fable leader into sidelined Mom.

  12. Steve Z Says:

    Blue Devil was the first comic I collected as a kid. I have to admit when the original series was canceled I kinda stopped looking at a lot of comics. It was only years after the fact that I learned that he got turned into a actual devil and later died. a few times… I always that the funny thing is when Nebiros always called him little brother. Nebiros is the demon that fused BD in his suit. Dan Cassidy from the original series would find a way to help his friends. I am sure that when Shadowpact gets into trouble, he will break out a backup suit he built… maybe even see the devilmobile!! lol.. ok.. maybe not
    The way they glossed over the labors he had to do AND the church couldn’t do anything? WTF! I am hoping that they knew they were being canceled so they hurried those crap parts up…

    hopefully, they can close some ends up better in the next couple of issues..

  13. badMike Says:

    “I’ll just assume that somewhere out there is a universe with the Blue Devil and his supporting cast still having adventures. Dart and the Atari Force out in space”

    Ha ha!! Yeah, that’s the same “Earth” universe in which ‘Mazing Man is still acting like a goof.

  14. Shawn Hill Says:

    But don’t forget Cinderella, who had a fun issue this month as an assassin/spy!

  15. Kevin Huxford Says:

    OK. I’m a huge Blue Devil fan. Have the whole original series (twice, actually…one was lost in a car fire…don’t ask).

    I had an idea of how to bring Blue Devil back to his roots that I wanted to pitch to DC back in the day. It would have involved Neron freeing Dan from his suit in an effort to prevent him from being able to save Trickster from hell. He would then have to build a suit all over again and get outside assistance to get him into hell to save Trickster. The end result would have had him blasted back into being stuck in the suit and back to being at least a bit of a weirdness magnet.

    So…don’t necessarily consider Blue Devil dead yet. There might be a plan to bring him back to his more enjoyable roots.

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