The Curse of Brimstone #9 – Justin Jordan, Writer; Eduardo Pansica, Penciller; Julio Ferreira, Inker; Rain Beredo, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Bad Brimstone!
Ray: Last issue of The Curse of Brimstone set up an interesting change of direction, with lead character Joe giving himself over to the sadistic Brimstone’s influences and disappearing. That potentially set up his sister Annie, the more compelling of the two characters, as the new lead character. Instead, this issue keeps Joe as the focus again, as he seemingly goes on the road and quickly encounters another magical powerhouse. The issue starts off much as the first issue did, with Joe walking down a road and encountering an old man in a car. This time, Joe blows off the old man, but the guy isn’t taking no for an answer. That’s because it’s actually Kent Nelson, aka Doctor Fate, and he has business with Brimstone. For those reading Justice League Dark, we know not all is as it appears with Doctor Fate and this could go very badly for Joe. But this is the first issue where we get a solid look at just how powerful Brimstone really is.
A lot of this issue is just an elaborate fight between Brimstone and Doctor Fate, with both holding their own. We’ve seen Brimstone’s power before, but never against an enemy of this level. The issue is, Joe’s hesitation seems to have been sucked out and with it the few hints of an interesting character. He’s a sneering stock antihero now complete with bad lines about burning it all. The issue keeps things ambiguous for most of the issue about which Doctor Fate this is – Kent Nelson or Nabu – but there’s a decent reveal near the end that ties it together. Annie doesn’t appear until the end, but her two pages are better than the eighteen prior and manage to make me excited for the final arc. This series is ending with #12 in March, and while it had some potential as a supernatural DC noir about a new magical powerhouse infecting the DCU, it lacked the compelling characters to make it truly click.
Corrina: I believe the series hasn’t quite clicked yet because the narrative is spinning its wheels. Joe wanted, originally, to be free of Brimstone, but now he veers between letting it take over and wanting to fix things. The thing is, he’s not taking any proactive steps to do something about his problem. Everything is done to him, rather than him initiating the action. Annie is the one trying to sort things out and find a solution, which explains why she’s more compelling.
Take this issue as an example: Joe hasn’t gone to see Dr. Fate for help, he is instead attacked, out of the blue, by Dr. Fate, making Joe reactive again.
Aside: I long for a magical character who talks plainly instead of in riddles or in metaphysical stuff. Like “Look Joe, you made a deal with a supernatural being, that’s bad, let’s figure this out.” “Aren’t you supposed to tell me to look inward and sort out my soul?” “Nah, enough of that. What we need is a weapon that kills the demon.” That’s Constantine’s thing sometimes but you can’t exactly trust him.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.