Day of Judgment #1 (1999)

Day of Judgment #1 (November, 1999)
“The Summoning”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Matt Smith
Inker – Steve Mitchell
Letterer – Comicraft
Colorist – James Sinclair
Editor – Kevin Dooley
Special Thanks – Chris Jones
Cover Price: $2.95

Here’s one I’ve been wanting to check out.  This is one of the few DC Events that I have never read!  I really only started my DC collection in earnest just as this was ending… or maybe it was still going on.  Whatever the case, I didn’t buy this then… and ever since, I’ve only seen it sporadically in the bins.

Having learned from past mistakes, I knew better than to grab one of these five issues at a time… I knew I’d lose track, and somehow wind up with a dozen copies of issue #4 or something.  I also knew that, one of these days, I was going to come across the whole kit and caboodle on the cheap… which I did!  The other day, I found the entire five-part series, plus the Secret Files & Origins for two-bucks.  Not too shabby.

Now, I’m not expecting much from this… but it’s always cool to fill in holes, and it should be interesting to check out some very early work from Geoff Johns.

Now, let’s get to it!

We open in Hell, where fallen angel Asmodel is being tormented by our pal from Underworld Unleashed, Neron.  As he remains chained, with tiny demons pecking at his flesh he is finally rescued by… Etrigan the Demon, who shares with him the fact that the Spectre has finally released Jim Corrigan’s soul… and is looking for another!

Asmodel isn’t quite sure what Etrigan’s getting at… and doesn’t quite buy what he’s selling regardless.  Just then, the Spectre himself arrives!  Wow, Etrigan and the Spectre in the same panel… be still my yawns!

The Spectre lashes out, severing one of Asmodel’s wings…. which is exactly what the Demon hoped he’d do.  Ya see, per Merlin… via the ashes of an angel’s wing… souls could be bound, or ya know, something that actually rhymes.  And so, Asmodel is the new host for the Spectre!

Topside, we meet with Zatanna as she’s wrapping up a magic show… and has to deal with being hit on by a geeky barman.  While being chatted up, she gets the gist of what’s going on down below… and zips out.

Next stop, New Jersey… the Ostrander Mental Institute.  This is where June Moone is being kept, and wouldn’tcha know it… tonight’s the night the Enchantress manages to bust on out.  She flies out of the hospital, where as luck would have it… Kyle Rayner just happened to be flying by.  More on them in a bit.

Back in Hell, we do that thing where a new “big bad” easily beats an older “big bad”.  We’ve seen it with Doomsday defeating Darkseid… and later, Imperiex defeating Doomsday.  It’s a trope as old as time… and here we see the new-look Spectre ixnay Neron, and then commanding the forces of Hell to follow his will.

Topside, Kyle approaches the Enchantress… who kinda takes him out in a single panel… all the while declaring that he’s not the Green Lantern that she knew.

After landing on the street… it begins to split!  From it, emerges Etrigan… and, flanked by an army of demons, the Spectre!

We rejoin Zatanna as she begins recruiting for what’s to come.  First stop, Dr. Occult… who is in Boston, admiring a crying statue.  Ya see, crying statues are a sign of the end-times… apparently.  Either way, he’s in.

Next stop, a St. Louis movie theater where Boston Brand is taking in a flick.  Not sure which one… but he’s really here for the popcorn anyway.  Zee insists he vacate the body… and come along with her, which he does.

Back on the street, Kyle is calling the “trouble ticket” into the JLA, who at this time have their own angel on the roster… Zauriel.  As Kyle spills the beans, Zauriel notices that his heavensword has begun to flare… meaning something nasty is on the way.

The JLA heads into action while J’onn remains at the Watchtower to call in some more heavy (and not-so heavy) hitters.  These folks include Firestorm… Argent and Damage (ay…), the Marvel Family, Star-Spangled Kid and S.T.R.I.P.E. (gee, I wonder why?), the JSA and Batman and Superman.

We’re off to Purgatory… where we see a Sargon the Sorcerer, Rick Flag, and Vigilante Adrian Chase…’s souls?  More importantly… we see another soul in waiting… I suppose it’s not giving it all away to reveal that this is the soul of Hal Jordan… and it’s now awake!

We next check in with the Quintessence… which is, I dunno, a group of powerful folks who kinda play a similar role as Uatu the Watcher?  It consists of Ganthet, the Wizard Shazam, the Highfather, and Zeus.  They discuss whether or not they ought to intervene… which turns out to be a moot point.  The Spectre sees them and tells them to stay put.

Back to Zatanna’s magical mystery tour… next stop, Detroit where she chats up Faust… the son of Felix Faust, natch.  He’s busy… er, washing bones in the sink, but agrees to come along nonetheless.  I get it though, I know my wife gets annoyed when I let the bones pile up in the sink!

Then… Greenwich Village, to the home of Madame Xanadu, who is already being attacked by demons!  Zee pops in and ixnays the baddies… then calls forth the Phantom Stranger.  Wow, this cast… it really is like my perfect sleep-aid.

Okay, so back on the street… the assembled heroes have arrived, and they’re taking the fight to the Spectre.  Their efforts are, at best, futile.  Asmod-Spec shrugs them off completely… including fellow angel Zauriel.  We get a bit of exposition, and a handful of handy editorial notes to learn that Zauriel had recently freed the Spectre… so, kinda tipping over that first domino.

Finally, the Spectre tires of the fight… and decides to end it.  With a blast from his fingers, he turns Superman into a pile of salt, Green Lantern into petrified wood… and does some similarly nasty stuff to the rest of the goodniks.

The Spectre and Etrigan celebrate their victory, however, it’s short-lived… because they now must face… the Sentinels of Magic!

I’m underwhelmed… but not disappointed.  Ya see, I kinda went into this expecting to be underwhelmed… so I can’t get mad at it for delivering.

It’s no secret that the Spectre is not one of my favorites… but I gotta say, I think I can get behind him as a villain.  He is definitely a thief of joy… so why not just turn him evil for a bit?  I must admit, I chuckled when the Spectre popped in on the Quintessence as they struggled with whether or not they should get involved… when that’s basically all the Spectre ever does!  Especially during event books!

I’m always a bit iffy when a new big-bad takes out an old one to show their dominance… but, ya know… even if I don’t necessarily care for him, I know what the Spectre means to DC… and it’s not like he was entirely a Johnny Come Lately.  So, I guess I don’t have a problem with him taking out Neron in a single panel.

The art here is… good, but not a good fit.  Matt Smith’s work feels like a more cartoony version of Mike Mignola.  It’s good, really quite good… and nice to look at.  I just don’t think it evokes a sense of urgency… which I feel like this story kinda needs.

Let’s look at the cover for a second… if I didn’t know any better, I’d figure Batman would have a rather sizable role… but he doesn’t!  I think he appears in maybe three panels?  I know why they do this… but can’t help but to roll my eyes when they do.  Hell… least it’s not the Joker, right?  Here’s a bit of a rant for ya… recently there was a loot-geek-nerd-fanboy-box-crate thing based on the Teen Titans.  Phil Jimenez drew an amazing cover for it… where almost half the thing was Batman’s freaking face.  Hell, he always was my favorite Teen Titan!  Apropos of nothing… this kinda thing just really bugs me.  I know why they do it… it just bugs me that they do.

Ahem… back to Day of Judgment.  If I didn’t know any better, I would assume… from this point… that this event was put together to facilitate a Sentinels of Magic ongoing series.  Seems a lot of work was put into getting them together.  As far as I know, that never came to be… but it wouldn’t surprise me if the later Shadowpact team had its roots in it.

Overall… this wasn’t a bad issue… it just didn’t do much for me.  I guess everything has to start somewhere.  I’d probably tell you this isn’t one you need to break your back tracking down, unless, like me, you’re filling in gaps in your Hal Jordan library… or if you want to see how Geoff Johns handled his first ever DC Comics event.

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