Pantheon #3 – Reviews Of Old Comics
I always strive to review old comics that you may not have thought about. Heck, you may not even know that they even exist. This is sometimes hard to do, especially in these days when some of the most obscure titles are available with a membership.
Many creators got their start in unlikely places. Some have their careers go into areas that may seem unlikely given their past. Bill Willingham is one of those writers that became very popular with his Vertigo series Fables, and it reached into other works for DC and of late, has been working for independent publishers. This is not uncommon ground for him.
Bill Willingham first rose to prominence on his creator owned series for Comico, Elementals. Eventually, as the comic market saw the publisher fall, Willingham sold the rights to Andrew Rev,who had bought Comico. After putting together a bible for the direction he had been taking the series, Willingham saw it ignored and eventually used as a doorstop, according to an editorial in an issue of Ironwood. Word has it that Willingham retooled many of those ideas and put them together for a mini-series that saw itself published, albeit irregularly, by Lone Star Press.
Lone Star Comics
Writer: Bill Willingham
Penciler: Mike Leeke
Inker: Bill Williams
Colorist: Patric Lewandowski
Letterer: Brad Thomte
Shadowpax is giving some new, young recruits a history lesson about the time it was his responsibility to stop the villain known as Deathboy. Because Deathboy could disintegrate things on sight, his darkness powers were ideal, especially since he could solidify it into a mass as well. The Freedom Machine and other heroes developed a strategy to use those abilities in the middle of the desert where Deathboy had been stranded.
Dynasty, the most powerful member of the Freedom Machine suggested privately to Commander Cross, leader of the Deathboy mission, a plan that didn’t risk any more lives. She would keep a long distance eye on Deathboy and keep him from reaching food or water. Commander Cross rejected the idea because he knew that Dynasty couldn’t conduct a slow torture and murder of a person, even an evil one.
Commander Cross addressed the heroes and asked for volunteers to keep Deathboy distracted while Shapdowpax got close enough. Cross would be one of the volunteers. Fandango, Stonehenge and Ivanhoe also volunteered. They ambushed Deathboy in the middle of a clearing. Deathboy disintegrated Fandango, then Stonehenge, and finally Commander Cross. Before Shadowpax could get within range, he was spotted. When Deathboy tried to disintegrate him, all he did was destroy his costume. Shadowpax, immune to Deathboy’s power, covered him in a cube of ultra-dense dark matter. Given that it’s farther than Shadowpax had ever pushed himself before, he dropped into a coma for three months.
Shadowpax explains to the new recruits that the story is a lesson. Being a member of the Freedom Machine may mean that they might be put in a position that makes them personally responsible for many, many lives. He wants them to know fully what they might face before they take the oath as new members of the team.
In Scotland, Ivanhoe lays down his armor and weapons in a religious ritual. At Fort Silence, the holding place for the most dangerous super-villains, Daedalus a former member of the Freedom Machine approaches. He delivers notice to the guards that he is taking over the island.
At Mount Thunder, headquarters of the Freedom Machine, Maestro, Menagerie, Holiday and Midas are sworn in as new members. During the celebration after the ceremony, Minerva tells Dynasty the news that Daedalus has taken over Fort Silence.
Essentially, all traces of Elementals are gone here. I like that a lot, and I am a huge Elementals fan. It does present us with the problem of having to familiarize ourselves with new characters. We’re dropped into the middle of these characters’ lives for the first time, yet the story treats them as if they’ve always been around with reputations of their own. However, it works in the sense that when we see Ivanhoe in the present day, we can infer that this religious ritual has something to do with the loss of Stonehenge against Deathboy. When Daedalus shows up to take over Fort Silence, he’s treated as a real threat. In the flashback, he’s only viewed as part of the gathering of heroes against Deathboy. Willingham is really great about crafting a complete world.
The plot itself establishes the humanity of the heroes. Those that don’t volunteer breathe a sigh of relief. Commander Cross, for all his posturing as a stern leader knows that neither he nor Dynasty can torture and kill Deathboy. In a pinch, Fandango steps up to lay down her life to save all of the future victims of Deathboy. BiFrost shoots down Maestro’s attempted pick-up line so completely and coldly, that it says scores about her character.
Mike Leeke sometimes lacks a little liveliness and dynamism to his characters, but here he is technically sound. His style is more one of the traditional comic artists, so readers used to a more exaggerated form of storytelling might not care for it. I personally love it. His skill shows in the establishing shots and some of his facial expressions are priceless.
If you’re looking for the issue itself, then it might be a hunt, but shouldn’t prove too costly. It is available digitally through Comixology. It was collected in Pantheon: Welcome to the Machine, which, like the publisher, is out of print.
As an aside, the comic itself was in black and white. It wasn’t colored until it was collected. If you need the color, then find the collection or read it digitally.
Final Rating: 8.0 (out of 10)