Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Witching Hour #1

Can somebody please hypnotize me to stop buying these crossover specials?

Remember that time Wonder Woman was raped by the priestesses of Hecate when she was a young girl and infused with tremendous magic power? Of course you don't because it's the latest and greatest retcon from Scott Snyder! I mean James Tynion IV! Maybe both of them since this whole deal where Wonder Woman needed to be pregnant with magic so one of DC's greatest heroes could fit on Justice League Dark without fangenders asking a lot of pointed questions began in that Justice League mini-series that broke the Source Wall. You know the series! It's the one I can't remember the name of right now. It starred Lobo? If that didn't jog your memory, I don't know what will. Who doesn't have a list of Lobo appearances somewhere on their person at all times just in case you stumble upon some cheap comic books for sale in some dingy estate sale.

So now that we've come to terms with Wonder Woman being one of DC's magic characters (yes we have!), let's discuss how much I dislike the way the magic characters have been written since The New 52. John Constantine can't cast one lousy spell without fifteen narration boxes explaining to the reader how the costs of magic are high. Not that we ever really see the cost in terms of story. No, it's good enough to remind the reader that it costs a lot so don't expect Constantine to solve all of his problems with spell after spell. It's like how Green Lantern's ring is always nearly out of charge. If Hal Jordan were to go into battle with a ring at 100% charge, there wouldn't be any dramatic tension! We know he can defeat anything he faces since the Green Lantern ring is the most powerful weapon in the universe. And since it lost the flaw where it can't affect yellow, it made Green Lantern's life too easy. So the ring suddenly had to be a pain in the ass to charge. And to do that, DC needed to tell that story about the exploited planet where the batteries were kept safe in interdimensional storage.

This is what's known as the Superman Problem. Or it's what will eventually be known as the Superman Problem after I write this. When a writer is given a character that has the ability to do anything they can imagine (like say a magic user or a Green Lantern or, apparently, Martian Manhunter. Who came up with the list of his powers? "Let's see...strength. Flight. Psionics. Intangibility. Um, you know what? How about everything? Just give him everything!"), the writer then needs to come up with a fairly easy way to limit that ability (like a high cost or a shitty battery or kryptonite or fire and an addiction to Oreos). Eventually that limiting plot device gets used to the point of ridiculousness and most writers, finally, realize that using the device is too easy. But if Superman stops having to deal with kryptonite as much, how do you challenge him? You simply escalate the danger. And to do that against Superman, you simply make him face more powerful enemies each time. So Superman comes on the scene and tells some weird alien to knock it off. Then the alien punches Superman and Superman thinks, "That actually hurt!" Cue the dramatic tension in the reader! Same with Green Lantern. Alien punches him in the face and he thinks, "I only have 3% charge on my ring! I hope I can defeat it in time!" Same with Martian Manhunter. The alien punches him and J'onn thinks, "Mmm, Oreos!" And that's how the magic characters of the DC Universe have been written lately. The alien...sorry...demon punches Constantine and he thinks, "I know a spell to defeat this monster but it's too high a cost! Let me smoke a cigarette and hold off casting the spell until I really need to cast it, all the time reminding the readers the high cost (which I'll never actually have to pay at the end (because it doesn't exist!))."

So then why am I reading this? Fuck you! I'll do what I want!

No! NO! Why didn't I listen to myself? Why must I always do what I want?!

Grade: D+. This grade doesn't reflect how other people might enjoy this comic book. It only reflects my own enjoyment of it. And since most of my time spent reading it was drowned out by my brain saying things like "Is it over yet?" and "Does magic cost more than freedom?" and "I'm glad that barn owl Madame Xanadu only had one small scene!", I found I didn't enjoy it much at all. Half of this issue was non-evil Hecate explaining the story to Wonder Woman so that the previous issues made sense. That allowed Wonder Woman to win the day using hugs. Not that Hecate accepts a hug from Wonder Woman which forces Wonder Woman to send the Upside Down Man to hug Hecate and eat her. I guess getting a god cannibalized by another god was the terrible cost of Zatanna's magic? That doesn't seem so bad.

Oh, I should also add that this story also contains the best comic book trope of all: the way everything played out was planned all along by the real evil villain: Circe! Ha ha ha ha! I mean, bwa ha ha!

If you don't know what's wrong with Zatanna's speech, we can't be friends.

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