The First 10: Shadowpact

Ahoy-hoy, folks! Welcome back to The First Ten, a regular feature in which I take a look at the first ten issues of a long or short-running comic book to see how it all started. This one is a milestone for us, folks, as it's our first DC comic book. We’ve done Excalibur, Nova, and Marvel Adventures Iron Man, but this week, we're absolutely tackling DC’s magic superhero comic book.  The series was spun out of Day of Vengeance, a mini-event that was both a prelude to Infinite Crisis and a sequel to Day of Judgment. The other big book to spin out of an Infinite Crisis prelude mini was Secret Six, and it rules incredibly hard, so this has a lot to live up to. Shadowpact ran 25 issues, beginning in July of 2006 and ending exactly two years later in July of 2008. We're covering the first ten issues, starting with…


1. Death in a Small Town

Writer/Artist: Bill Willingham

Um, this is a first. Part of the deal with these First Tens is that I try to pick comics I’ve never read before, or haven’t read in a long time. This way, I can keep things fresh and also have the perspective of being unfamiliar with the series as a whole. So, there’s always a chance of something bad happening: I might not like the series. I’ve never been a Willingham fan, but I was really hoping this would turn me around. However...uh...this one was really not good.

In the story, a group of magic villains takes hold of a small town, and Superman and Phantom Stranger summon Shadowpact to deal with them. They enter the town and completely vanish for one year.

The writing isn’t terrible from a plot perspective, but the dialogue's atrocious. Most of the main cast sound alike, and it's been a long time since I read an officially published Superman that was as bad as this one. Willingham’s Man of Steel is about as bland and personality-free as he can get. We don’t have enough time to get to know the main cast, and the book assumes a familiarity with them that I don't have. I understand that this was spun off from Day of Vengeance, but this is your Issue Number One. Make way for new readers.

Willingham’s art is painfully inconsistent and just lacking on a craft level, with a lot of hastily drawn faces and awkward layouts. I really hope this one turns me around by the end of the ten issues, but I don’t know if that’s gonna happen.