Day of Judgment #5 (1999)

Day of Judgment #5 (November, 1999)
“Soul Search”
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Matt Smith
Breakdowns – Christopher Jones
Inker – Steve Mitchell
Colorist – James Sinclair
Separations – Jamison
Letters – Comicraft
Associate Editor – Tony Bedard
Editor – Dan Raspler
Special Thanks – Kevin Dooley
Cover Price: $2.50

Okay, let’s put this one to bed!

We open with Hal Jordan flying through the “inner being” of the Spectre… where he eventually comes across its current occupant, Asmodel.  Outside, we pick up on our “evil Superman” cliffhanger… where he just vomits up Neron.  Eh?  Well, that was worth it.

And so, a battle begins.  Oddly, Neron refers to the group calling themselves the “Sentinels of Magic” as… the Sentinels of Magic.  I guess word travels fast!  After some rough-and-tumble with Blue Devil and Captain Marvel, Neron swipes the Spear of Destiny… and uses it to pierce the Spectre.

Into the… inside, Neron joins the fray as a potential host for the Spirit of Vengeance.  From the streets of Manhattan, the assembled heroes look on as the over-sized Spectre begins to seize.  Suddenly, back inside, the Spectre entity lines its three “suitors” up, and wonders who to accept.

Each man pleads his case.  Asmodel appeals to how similar he and the Spectre are as victims of lost status.  Neron insists he would be the best teammate for the Spectre… in that between them, no souls will go unclaimed.  Hal… well, Hal just cries.  He reflects on his past transgressions… and his hope to eventually atone.  Well, looks like he said the magic woid… because the Spectre choo-choo-chooses him!

Back on the street, Asmodel and Neron hit the pavement with a thud.  The heroes look skyward… and get their first look at the brand-new Spectre!

Neron proceeds to sass him… which doesn’t seem like the smartest course of action.  He mocks the Spectre… even going as far as to refer to him as something of a subordinate.  Hal don’t take kindly to that… and locks him up in a lantern construct to yell at him some.  Neron is suddenly sent back to “back where he came” by… the old Spectre-host, Jim Corrigan.

Jim wishes Hal the best… and informs him that some of the lost souls in Purgatory will finally be getting their appeal.  He even takes Asmodel back to Heaven with him.

Overwhelmed, Hal takes his leave… but not before restoring Manhattan to its former glory.

The heroes celebrate their victory… and we get a pretty good shot of the Sentinels of Magic.  Zatanna informs the crowd that they are free to applaud if they want.  With lines like that, I wonder if this makes her the first ever Millennial?  Hell, it was still the twentieth century when this came out… talk about being ahead of one’s time!

We pop down to Hell… and learn that Neron has been “demoted”.  Something tells us this might’ve been Etrigan’s plan all along.  He’s an easy character to write (besides the rhyming of course).  If he wins… it’s all according to plan, if he loses… well, that was his plan anyway!

After a brief scene with Zatanna accepting a date with that nerdy barkeep from wayyy back in issue #1, we meet up with the Quintessence… who give us the Animal House updates on our major players… which really makes me think this was all a pitch for a Sentinels of Magic series… which makes this overlong endeavor even that much more pointless.

Well… I’m glad that’s over.

Don’t get me wrong… I can’t get too mad at this story, because I feel like it’s a story worth telling.  My problems stem from the length and pacing of the thing.

When we talked about Millennium… which, holy smokes… was a year ago, I complained that so much of the action was going down in the tie-ins.  We knew this because there were references to it in the main series.  Here, I couldn’t even venture to guess what was happening in the tie-ins.  Did the whole Spear of Destiny thing happen “off campus”?  I hope so, otherwise, the scenes we get here were… really lacking.  Same with the Fate-hunt in Salem.  Was that really just a single page search?  Or did it happen in a tie-in?

I get that we enlightened “turn of the century” comic fans were supposed to be above such silly “comicbooky” things as editorial notes… but, ya know… sometimes things exist for a reason.  I’d hate to think I was slighting this thing for the wrong reasons.

One thing I have no such qualms about is the over-reliance on cliffhangers… and the unsatisfying resolutions that followed.  You can’t end a book with “something” happening… then start the next with a “nevermind, everything’s cool!”.  I mean, “evil Superman” lasted… two panels?  Hell… most things in this event seem to last for two panels!

I’ll spare y’all the broken record… suffice it to say, this could have been paced (and compacted) much better.

Is it worth checking out?  Well, yeah… I think so.  If you’re a Hal-buff, or even Hal-curious… this is an important step in his retribution arc.  It feels like a way to try and give the fans the “best of both worlds” in the context of the direction the DC Universe was heading at the time.  For new fans, you’ve still got Kyle… for lapsed and seasoned fans, you get Hal too!

What we don’t get is… a Sentinels of Magic series.  Not that something of that sort would interest me in the slightest, because it wouldn’t… but, after the hard push we get here… it seems strange that nothing really came of it.

Overall… as a series, it’s bloated… over-reliant on lame cliffhangers… chock-full of weird “nothin’ happenin'” cameo scenes… just not a pleasant experience if you’re reading them one at a time.  If you decide to take the plunge and read’em all at once, you might think differently.  As a single-issue, this one has the most going for it.  Outside of the cliffhanger-resolution, and the Sentinels-heavy end, this was a pretty enjoyable read!

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