Sunday, March 1, 2009

Review: Reign in Hell #8


I said from the outset that I had little interest in reading Reign In Hell outside of the rumored appearance of Linda Danvers. The Shadowpact and other mystic players in the DCU have rarely grabbed me. But Linda Danvers? She was special to me.

The mini-series ended this week with Reign In Hell #8. As with most of the issues, I was scratching my head when I finished it. It just never seemed to make much sense to me. And I am still unclear how the mystic terrain has changed now that this war has reached a resolution. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Remember that in last issue, Linda seemed confused and was vacillating between helpful and innocent or vengeful and judging. After immolating some demons, she almost does the same to Dr. Occult before flying off screaming.

I don't think that sat well with most Linda fans. Most of us worried that this was a set-up to make her the Queen of Hell.

This issue opens up shortly afterwards. The human beings in Hell have congregated in the empty realm of Purgatory in hopes of finding a way home. Some are inexperienced; some are overmatched; most are battered physically and exhausted mentally.

The only sensible plan is for Nightshade to try to find a passage back through the shadow realms. She states that the shadows are now unpredictable and that she may get lost inside them. She also admits that they seem to lead her through many of the worst memories of her life. Dr. Occult, who comes across as a Philip Marlowe type, states he will join her and use his symbol as a guide. With no other choice, the two set off while they others try to heal.



The events in Hell have not gone unnoticed on Earth. As seen last issue, Rama Kushna is trying to force a chaos event to occur to shake up the new order in Hell. The hope is she will open the doors of Hell again.

As a way to try to influence Kushna's chaos event, the Earth magicians have Zatara bond with her psychically and project calm as much as he can. But he looks the worse for wear as he is being burned out by the effort.

In much the same way, the magicians ask Kid Devil to link so that he can observe and influence the evil magics Kushna is bringing to bear. Kid Devil also gets engulfed by Kushna's power and seems to fall into a coma.
As for Hell itself, Lord Satanus is reveling in his newfound power and title.

First he denies Zauriel his plea to let the humans trapped in Hell go free. Next he states that he will reclaim Purgatory as part of his kingdom. And lastly, he makes a pact with Lobo that he will free the Czarian if he slaughters the magic wielders hiding out in Purgatory. Since Lobo wants another piece of Zatanna, he agrees.


After setting Lobo free, Satanus is confronted by Black Alice who has been sucking up power throughout the series. I only know Alice from her early appearances in Gail Simone's Birds of Prey. In that series, she seemed like a confused adolescent Goth who was dealing with her mother's death and unsure of what to make of her powers. In this series, she has only seemed evil.

She grabs Satanus in hopes of draining him of his power only to have it seemingly overwhelm her.


We then cut to Purgatory where we read several pages of Lobo kicking the tar out of the worn-out good guys. Dr. Fate seems inexperienced. Ibis, Ragman, Sargon, and The Enchantress are simply overmatched. And Zatanna is running on empty. The best they can do against an enraged Lobo is parry and survive. But it is barely a fight. Look at Zatanna get the big hook to the left shoulder.

As the troops scramble to live, Nightshade and Dr. Occult wander through the back corners of Nightshade's mind until they run across a drill-like projection which leads to the outside world.



Using Kid Devil as a conduit, Nightshade and Dr. Occult crawl back to the physical plane. And then, using Dr. Fate as a beacon are able to bring back the magicians in Purgatory. All of them, that is, except Sargon who runs inteference with Lobo so the others can escape. It is hinted at that Lobo kills Sargon shortly thereafter.

The return of the living from Purgatory seems to be the necessary chaos event as we hear that the infernal font flows again.

What is it with guys called Sargon in these big mystic cataclysms. They always die! Remember the first Sargon bursting into flame way back in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing #50?
But more than the escape of the sorcerors has shaken the already tenuous landscape of the pit.

It turns out that when Black Alice tried to drain Lord Satanus of his power that made Satanus temporarily vulnerable to attack. Lady Blaze took advantage of that, entering the circuit and taking the energy for herself. Now both Black Alice and Satanus are drained and powerless while Blaze is almighty.

Blaze leaves her brother broken and drooling on the floor and proclaims herself Queen of Hell.
All that's left is picking up the pieces. Blue Devil gets to go home. But does he go free of his demonic side? The answer seems to be no. Shadowpact has reformed and we see Blue Devil brooding at their headquarters, still blue and brawny. Black Alice ends up back on Earth, powerless, confused, and overall terrified.


And, interestingly enough, the shakeup in the afterlife seems to have given an out to the Dibny's who are free to leave their ghost form whenever they please.

The series ends at (I presume) Blaze's coronation, the head of Neron still on a pike before her. And what is Zauriel doing there?

I really don't know what to make of this series. There did not seem to be any sort of comprehendable story over the eight issues. There were major plot twists introduced in one panel and then erased by the next bizarre turn of events. I have read a lot of comics in my life and at times I felt lost. I never quite understood the plan (if any) that the magicians from Earth had or how they would actualize it. The dialogue often seemed forced. Was it necessary to bring back the original Zatara only to kill him again. Was this the best way to bring back Lobo, who we had seen throughout 52?

Oh yeah ... and one more thing ...

THERE WAS NO LINDA!

I suppose I should be happy that she wasn't set up as Queen of Hell or a new villain. I mean it when I say I am thrilled they did not make her a villain. But why bring her into the story if she wasn't going to impact the plot at all. I mean, she really did nothing to advance the story. Instead, we see her as a spiteful angry woman in Gotham and a confused psychotic killer in Hell. Is this a better ending than the open ended one from Supergirl #80? Doesn't she deserve better than this?

What is the worst offense? A life in comic limbo, out of continuity? Or dragging her back into continuity, portraying her poorly, and leaving her sobbing and wandering outside Purgatory?

This seemed like a lousy way to get people like me (a Linda fan) to buy a pretty lousy 8 issue mini-series.

Overall grade (issue): D
Overall grade (series): D

12 comments:

Gene said...

Agreed, Linda deserved a better reintroduction than this. Had she not been included in the first place, it would not have affected this comic series one bit. Here's hoping she's the new Flamebird...

Heath Edwards said...

mmm, a disappointing series... i thought i'd gotten a bit of a handle on the story by issue 7, but this final issue totally lost me again...
i do hope the next writer to take on linda does a much better job. i mayn't be a fan, but she's still a part of the super-family, to me...

Anj said...

Agreed, Linda deserved a better reintroduction than this. Had she not been included in the first place, it would not have affected this comic series one bit.

This is my problem. They trumpet her return and basically have her do nothing.

My question is this though ... could the powers that be have wanted Linda to be Queen in Hell, read how poorly that was being received on-line and so rewrote the ending?

I know ... probably not.

Jason said...

I also agree...this was a poor distasteful ending for Linda. Her ending in Supergirl #80 should have been left alone and in tact. Shame on DC. Linda deserved better.

TalOs said...

HEAR, HEAR! *Shakes head in utter disgust* I actually want my money back for buying this mediocre title. *Sighs*

Poor Linda.

Mike Z. said...

"Reign In Hell," "Rann-Thanagar Holy War"... lesson learned: avoid DC miniseries that start with "R." And "Amazons." And "Final."

(Joking on that last one. Mostly.)

Anj said...

I also agree...this was a poor distasteful ending for Linda. Her ending in Supergirl #80 should have been left alone and in tact. Shame on DC. Linda deserved better.

Thanks for the post.

I couldn't agree more.

The thing that really irks me is her complete lack of impact in the mini. It just seems to bring her back if all they were going to do was have her do ... nothing.

Anj said...

"Reign In Hell," "Rann-Thanagar Holy War"... lesson learned: avoid DC miniseries that start with "R." And "Amazons." And "Final."

(Joking on that last one. Mostly.)


Thanks for the post and the laugh. I needed it.

And don't get me started on inal Crisis again. Hee hee.

Yota said...

From Newsarama:

http://www.newsarama.com/comics/030918-Didio0318.html

DD: That’s something that’s going to be on the shelf for a little while. The last series, Reign in Hell reestablished the status quo in Hell itself, setting up Blaze as the new leader of Hell, replacing Neron. We’d been running those characters pretty hard for a while now, and while you might see something coming down the pipeline that will feature individual characters, but honestly, some of the storylines we were looking at felt comparable to where we were headed with Blackest Night, therefore I wanted to give that whole concept a rest for a little bit while Blackest Night takes center stage starting in July.

That’s not to say that you won’t see those characters in Blackest Night.


What does THAT mean?! Whaddya think? Potential for a Linda Danvers return, maybe..?

--Yota.

Anj said...

That’s not to say that you won’t see those characters in Blackest Night.

What does THAT mean?! Whaddya think? Potential for a Linda Danvers return, maybe..?


Thanks for the post and quote.

She would be an interesting addition to the mix of Blackest Night. And, since she isn't dead, at least it won't be as a zombie.

Let's hope DC figures out how to use such a great character.

Rick said...

After this I am still a little iffy on her perhaps being in Blackest night.

Anonymous said...

"i do hope the next writer to take on linda does a much better job."

Nearly nine years later and there hasn't been a next writer so far. The Supergirl Curse (being retconned out and forgotten) struck again.

"Let's hope DC figures out how to use such a great character."

I wouldn't trust someone other than Peter David to write her.

DC can't figure out what to do with the Super-cousins most of time, I don't trust them to handle Linda. I wouldn't be shocked to find out what they deem her redundant. They kept her around because they needed to use a "Supergirl" character but they didn't dare bring Kara Zor-El back because of an arbitrary rule. Once that rule was repelled, they had no use for Miss Danvers. And it's apparent that few writers other than her creator cared about her.