Thursday, June 02, 2005


So far, this is turning out a lot better than I thought it would.

The banter and bickering between our reluctant team of heroes was the high point of the issue, although I wonder how I'd feel about Enchantress's and Ragman's moment (or non-moment) if I had ever regularly watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As with last issue, it's fairly impossible to dislike Detective Chimp and the rest of the team is starting to develop as well. If nothing else, Bill Willingham will go down as having found productive use for Blue Devil. I mentioned last issue how much I liked his take on Ragman.

Now, granted, I'm still not sure what to make of the whole Eclipso-Spectre relationship. Or, rather, the whole Spectre-as-Leonard Shelby routine and how it's getting used in this story. I understand the concept -- The Spectre, without a human host, has no reservoir of memories and is operating on base instinct to mete out vengeance -- and think it has potential for abuse by villainy, like the way it seems Eclipso Jean is using it. But I'm not sure I like the way Willingham has interpreted this anchorless force.

Not that I ever mind Hector Hall (Dr. Fate) getting dispatched quickly and without putting up much of a fight, but Willingham has turned the spirit of divine vengeance into a dangerously powerful simpleton, a sort of supernatural Lennie Small, and I'm not a fan. The literal overkill of the Spectre's actions at the start of the issue -- capital punishment for what the 21st century considers regrettable (instead of mortal) sins -- was great, but the childlike eagerness and gullibility not so much so. The Spectre has often been depicted as fundamentally uncomprehending of human nature beyond its basic imperfection; the Spectre needs its human host to keep it from wiping all of humanity out at once for its sinning ways. I don't like how that jars with this insecure and lustful Spectre who has somehow gotten more human without a host.

Willingham gave a Newsarama interview where he talked a good game. So we'll see where this goes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've said it before--if you like talking monkeys, you'll like DoV. If not, you won't.

I just don't like monkeys.

It's been difficult to explain what bothers me about Willingham's treatment of the Spectre, who is my only reason for following this.

He's remembered that the Spectre's memory and ability to communicate effectively goes in and out (which makes the host seem a bit like RAM and adapter).

The Spectre's always been portrayed as some sort of cosmically powerful child, emotionally, with it's intellect only coming into play when it is calmly working with it's host, and presumably, accessing it. Reminds me of Alan Moore's description of Raphael as a 'simple-minded zealot'.

And the immediately obvious answer to *why* the Spectre is supposed to be banished to Limbo between hosts is only troubled a little by the out-of-character lack of reaction on Heaven's part to the rule-breaking freedom--I'm certain there *is* an explanation, whether it is that 1) they're leaving it on Shazam as punishment, since he's responsible for it, 2) despite Hal Jordan's detachment, there's enough connection between them to let the Spectre get away with it, or 3) this is the tacit Vertigo/DC crossover we won't see, as Heaven is busy in Lucifer lately, and God isn't on the job.

Nor is this the first time the Spectre sans host has shown an interest in the opposite sex. Alas for him, it's always a woman more interested in using him for his power.

I was delighted by the open affirmation of the Spectre's hosts as spiritual marriage partners and intrigued that the whole 'spirit of redemption' experiment might have had lasting consequences to the Spectre's growth. Though Willingham refers to it dismissively as a 'head trip'.

But it all seems a bit cobbled to me, as if all the elements were researched but not truly understood, and this is why the seams seem to fit so badly. I just can't put my finger on *why* it irritates me--other than monkeys.

Thu Jun 23, 08:49:00 PM EDT  

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