Review by Ian Keogh
As the lead in to DC’s Infinite Crisis four preludes were published, and Day of Vengeance investigated what happens when the manifestation of God’s anger runs amok. The Spectre is powerful enough to do almost anything, and has a mission to wipe out the totality of Earth’s evil. Crucially, this was to be achieved by tethering the Spectre to a human in order to provide compassion and understanding rather than just vengeance, but at this point the Spectre lacks a human host and has been corrupted. As part of that, he’s decided magic is evil and is intent on wiping out all practitioners. It seems a hopeless task to stop him, and few are willing to step up to the plate.
Before all that, however, we have a glimpse at Eclipso, a being also tethered to humans, and one of the few entities who can match the Spectre. If you’ve got to be attached to someone, what better prize than possessing Superman? Judd Winick has to work within the parameters of Superman’s wider continuity, and takes some time before hitting the main attraction, but when he eventually does it’s great, with Winick proving who’d win in a fight between the seemingly evenly matched Superman and Captain Marvel.
Once that’s done the Spectre takes centre stage, tempted and sent on the rampage. The star turn of this story proves to be Detective Chimp, a 1950s character Bill Willingham rescued from oblivion, a talking chimp in cloak and deerstalker, but as drawn by Justiniano, realistically, close up and in shadow, he’s no joke, but a surprisingly sinister figure. Willingham’s already provided him with a sardonic turn of phrase accompanying plenty of attitude, and to play off him adds Black Alice, Blue Devil, Enchantress, Nightmaster, Nightshade and Ragman, not quite as obscure as Detective Chimp, but hardly headliners either. Day of Vengeance preceded Willingham creating Fables, so he wasn’t as acclaimed for the quality of his plots and the surprises within them, so while there’s a specific purpose for everyone he uses, they seem strange choices. He discloses their backgrounds along the way, and as shown on the cover, Captain Marvel returns for another go at Eclipso.
Justiniano is a far better artist than Ron Wagner, who fills in for a chapter, without providing much detail, character or glamour in his panels. Justiniano’s also better than Ian Churchill on the Superman story, with Churchill’s method of showing Superman straining every sinew very ugly. The layouts are great, though, particularly on his final chapter’s battle between Superman and Captain Marvel.
Willingham’s unlikely grouping of heroes combine well, having an edge due to some out of control personalities, and would have a brief run as Shadowpact. However, the shock of the ending that Willingham’s been leading to is one that’s been wiped out by too many continuity reboots at DC. It leaves an entertaining story where the ending counts for nothing.