Mongul talks some smack, so Neron beats him to death in a few panels, as new villains do when they need to convince readers how powerful and serious they are (Waid, usually a more skillful superhero writer, takes some notably lazy shortcuts here and there in this book, and now I can't help wonder if such things are cliches now because Waid popularized them back then, or if they were already cliches by the mid-1990s).
Geoff Johns, who had a habit of trying to bad-ass-ify villains in the same way that Mark Waid makes fun of in his 1998 afterword, would eventually kill off the Rainbow Raider in 2002 during his run on The Flash, replacing him at one point with "The Rainbow Raiders," a team of color-coded villains. The Raider was one many to return as a Black Lantern during Johns' Blackest Night event/crossover.
I ended up thinking about Johns a lot during this series, not only because he would go on to write so very many of these characters himself, but because so much of the intent of this series—that is, making DC Comics IP seem more dark or serious—is what so much of Johns' career would entail.
The dialogue seems to cover these three with "It's as though something is attempting to keep all the supernatural beings engaged," but it's interesting that Jimenez can draw Swamp Thing right there on the page, but he's not referred to by name. Instead, the Stranger's narration notes, "Even the bayou seems to be permeated with evil. It's protector feels an unease he cannot fully explain."
Obviously DC was operating under some hazy rules in which certain DC-turned-Vertigo characters couldn't cross the border between the two "universes", and Jimenez and company seemed to get a little more latitude with this book than creators on others might have gotten. Phantom Stranger, for his part, appeared in many of the same Vertigo comics that Mister E did, but he headlined only a single Vertigo comic—1993's Vertigo Visions: The Phantom Stranger #1 by Alisa Kwitney and Guy Davis. That apparently wasn't enough to make him a Vertigo character, though, and he was apparently still seen as more of a DCU character than a Vertigo one (It looks like Jimenez drew the particular design from the Vertigo one-shot, though).
On the next page, however, he follows the ad hoc team to Tannarak's Bar, where he's seen floating above them like Jones' spectral corpse version. There he uses his "power" of possessing a body.
17.) The Spectre is a Harryhausen fan. Or, at least, Williams is. When The Spectre has finally had enough of Dementor's shit, he creates a giant fist out of the ground to hold him in place and sics some two-headed vultures on him. When I originally read this, I just thought, "Huh. Two-headed vultures. Cool." Now I can't help but think of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.
At twilight in Paris, every deco gargoyle sprang to life in hopes of nourishing itself on the tourists. Only Mystek, Triumph and Gypsy defend the city of lights from darkness.In Metropolis, the dawn brought with it famine--a ravenous hunger that could not be sated. Booster Gold and Blue Beetle face off against the storming crowds like hummingbirds against a hurricane.
And so on.
The most sustained action on Earth involves Blockbuster, Grodd and Metallo attempting a heist of some nuclear weapons being transported through Gotham by truck, and Batman, Robin, Black Canary and Huntress showing up to foil their attempt.
When the heroes finally make it to Neron's throne in Hell, they suddenly all turn on Captain Marvel, "an effect of the locale," as Neron explains. With the help of the Trickster, Cap is able to break the spell on the heroes and then offer Neron a deal: His soul in exchange for the release of his friends and Earth...and that's it.
Unable to not make a deal, but also unable to properly digest a soul from a deal that was "purely altruistic," Neron briefly resumes his true form of a mass of green tentacles on legs, then explodes in a huge green ink/white fireball, which sends all of the heroes back to Earth.
In a coda, Trickster seems to be thinking of turning over a new leaf and joining the superheroes' side of the DC Universe' eternal game, as, in his words, "when I someday pass from this mortal coil, I'd better have made some friends in Heaven, 'cause after this... ...I don't dare go to Hell..."
here), and among the denizens of his Hell are these creatures with vaguely clam-like heads that are basically all mouth. These echo the hellmouth entrance to Hell in the book.
I was therefore a little surprised to turn a page in this collection and see the heroes punching their way through monsters that look an awful lot like them:
But in the collection, everything is white, and therefore there's no visual signifier that there's anything different about Cap's soul versus the corrupted ones.
Probably the single strongest creative motive governing comics over the last 10 years has been embarrassment. You know it. You've seen its ruinous effects. Knuckleheaded, well-intentioned creators ashamed of corny old characters have been, for most o f a decade, dragging half-forgotten heroes and villains kicknig and screaming into their little hardware stores of creativity. There, haunted by a guilty fear that these ancient superdoers aren't kewl enough for a generation of video game-entranced readers, said kunckleheaded creators graft big guns and armored suits and homicidal personalities and grotesque deformities onto these poor costumed naifs and thus fool themselves into thinking they're doing them a good turn by bludgeoning all the innocent charm and colorful individuality out of them.
"Oooh! Let's turn Heat Wave into a living pillar of fire." "Oh, I know! Crazy Quilt should be made up of undulating, shifting patches of human skin!" Man, I thought I was so smart. Of course any villain created before Watchmen was pathetic and needed fixing, right?
See what I mean?
26.) I imagine I'll have to hit the back-issue bins if I ever want to read the whole story. Unless this trade collection ends up selling gangbusters, I can't imagine we'll end up getting any further Underworld Unleashed collections, although, like I said, there is a lot of it left uncollected—about 50 issues of tie-ins, according to Wikipedia.