I tried reading Shadowpact after OYL. It wasn’t exactly bad, but it clashed horribly with continuity and the artwork left a lot to be desired. It also didn’t help that I thought Days of Vengeance was one of the weakest minis spinning into Infinite Crisis and thus was biased against the book from the start. So, I gave it the nominal first issue and decided it wasn’t for me. I haven’t really re-examined that decision in the past 9 months, but last month the book was guest-starring The Demon and I couldn’t resist picking it up. Suffice it to say, I was more than pleasantly surprised.
Having the book out of OYL’s shadow is really helping it, and the fact that it doesn’t have any super-hero guest stars isn’t hurting it either (well, maybe in sales it is…but the story seems to progressing better for it). Anyway, I liked issue 9 enough to go back and get the missing 8 issues. As soon as Willingham stopped drawing the book, I started to really enjoy it. Shawn McManus and Cory Walker are old favorites and I loved their issues. I especially enjoyed the Ragman story with McManus. Tom Derenick has also managed to bring a new look to the book that works with the previous artists’ takes on the characters and adds something new to it.
As far as the stories are concerned, I like the ‘spotlight’ issues, but the team issues are still not really clicking for me. The team just doesn’t seem like a team if you get my meaning. It should be a lot more cohesive by issue 9 but it still just seems like an issue of Secret Defenders with random characters thrown together and made to function in a team setting when they really shouldn’t be. The book has great potential, but if it’s to become good, I think Willingham needs to rethink the team or the team dynamic at the very least otherwise I don’t expect it’ll last much longer.
Strangely enough, even with all the flaws I still do like the book, and plan on continuing to read it for as long as it’s around (which like I said before, I don’t expect to be much longer since sales are pretty damned bad.) And well…the Nightmaster-Enchantress romance really looks interesting, and I can’t wait to see it reach a nice conclusion. Although considering this is DC she’ll get raped and want to kill all men while he’ll get killed, period. Not to mention the fact that Blue Devil is finally getting some much-needed development after far too many years of lying in limbo. His rise of demonhood is a nice take especially with reference to the new 10th age of magic.
I hope more people give this book a chance. It isn’t perfect (then again…name more than 3 books from the Big Two that are) but it’s pretty damned good and there’s potential for it to be much better.