Rann/Thanagar: Holy War and Reign in Hell


Jun 20, 2001
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Two mini-series starting in May and June, respectively

Basically, they sound like spiritual successors to Rann/Thanagar War and Day of Vengeance (although the major plot point for Reign in Hell actually comes from 52). Given how much I loved those series and the fact that the creative teams on these new ones look friggin' awesome, I'll be all over them.
Hmm, I originally passed on Mystery in Space and didn't even care to read Ctdn to Adventure. I guess I'll get the Mystery in Space mini in preparation.

Reign in Hell looks oh so good.
Oh, I'm definetly all over these.
So help me Buffy, I'll be getting this.
Hmm, I originally passed on Mystery in Space and didn't even care to read Ctdn to Adventure. I guess I'll get the Mystery in Space mini in preparation.

Reign in Hell looks oh so good.

I liked Mystery in Space. They did a good job bringing Captain Comet back and it was neat to see the telepathic side of the DC universe as well as stuff occurring in outer space.

Both series sound promising. I liked Rann/Thangar and Day of Vengeance. The both explored a good amount of DC's characters and when I heard Hawkman's involvement in the next series, I'm hooked! I also like seeing Neron having a role again, I would really like if he had a bigger role or to come back briefly again. And with the idea of Hell being unmonitored, I could see the possibility of certain villains coming back from the dead and escaping hell.
Yeah, I liked how Starlin basically replaced Captain Comet with himself, but made it into a whole story that made sense (in a sci fi kind of way) and was really entertaining. Those kinds of stories are getting rarer and rarer, it seems--replaced by stories that gloss over character intros too quickly or decompress them to the point of boredom.
Not interested.
Still sore over Nightshade? :(
I'll skip this. they need to do another adam strange mini and where the hell is space ghost? damnit
hmm, i dont know. i'll get reign in hell but i'm undecided about holy war
Still sore over Nightshade? :(
It's faded, but I was never a fan of Neron, and I'm just not all that interested in seeing a mini about whose ruling Hell. Etrigan also isn't my favourite character.

As for Holy War, meh, didn't really care for R/T War in the first place.
She's written completely different in Shadowpact compared to how she was in Suicide Squad, which is the portrayal Harl prefers. Even in the Suicide Squad: Raise the Flag mini, Nightshade appears for a panel or two and seems a lot different from her Shadowpact version.
Oh, pfft. Mischaracterized favorites? Join the club. Get in line. Take a number.

Wait but...Willingham is not writing Reign in Hell.
But people writing Shadowpact tend to stick to Willingham's characterizations. Zauriel's still a soldier-of-Heaven ****** and Nightshade is still Shadowpact-Nightshade no matter who's writing the main title.
None of these really sound like my cup of tea, but if I had to pick, I'd go w/ Reign in Hell. I wonder if there will be any reference to Sandman vol. 4 or Lucifer.
I doubt it. Vertigo is all supposed to be completely out of continuity with the mainstream DC universe now.

newsarama.com said:
Keith Giffen's doing it again.

When Marvel wanted to dust off and revive their cosmic characters, Giffen was handed the vastness of the cosmos and given the opportunity to use Marvel's most obscure space characters for an epic story called Annihilation. The story was successful enough for the publisher that it spawned several other series and gave new life to characters rarely used before.

Now DC is giving Giffen a similar task, handing him any and all of their mystical characters – both the well-known magicians and the most obscure characters in the catalogue – and asking him to develop the vast world of magic in the epic mini-series Reign in Hell.

In a story that Giffen says will span eight issues, Reign in Hell will establish some of the ground rules for magic in the DCU while redefining what DC's concept of Hell really is. Newsarama talked to Giffen about the series, which was officially announced this past weekend at the DC RRP meeting. And while Giffen is hoping to keep many of the surprises of the series to himself, he did tell us some of the characters who will show up and how he's approaching their reappearance.

Newsarama: First, Keith, can you outline the story of Reign in Hell for us?

Keith Giffen: Basically, Reign in Hell is a war for the control of Hell between Neron and Satanus and his sister Blaze, and the ramifications it has on the DC Universe, not only on the mystical characters but on the reality that we live in, as opposed to the reality in which Hell exists. So it will be a big, sprawling kind of an epic that maybe drives DC's concept of Hell in a different direction, kind of away from the Dante-esque looks that we've had all along, as well as helps to set some ground rules for using at least infernal magic in the DC Universe.

NRAMA: So there are rules to magic in the DCU?

KG: I think there are rules to everything. I don't think magic is what I call the Dr. Strange "point-and-click" magic where you can mutter some words and shoot bolts out of your hands. I'd like to show it as being a little bit more complicated, without making it so complicated that it feels like you're reading a Dungeons and Dragons book.

NRAMA: So in this story, they're fighting over Hell?

KG: There's an uprising in Hell, and we're just spelling out the war. And it's not just issue after issue of bing, bang, boom. We focus on the smaller stories – characters caught up in the midst of the conflict, and DC mystics who have taken sides in the conflict and how that affects them. And hopefully tell a fun story while we're at it.

NRAMA: We've heard that Etrigan the Demon will show up. Will it involve some of the magic characters we've seen recently, like the ones in Shadowpact or Day of Vengeance?

KG: I would say that we try to touch on all or most of the DC mystical characters at least once. Some of them will have a more in-depth role.

NRAMA: Can you tell us any other characters that will have a more in-depth role?

KG: Without spoiling it too much, I can tell you that Doctor Occult plays very big in the book, and of course, Zatanna. You really can't do a magic book without Zatanna.

And then I'd rather leave the other characters as kind of a surprise to the readers when they come trotting along. I've really gotten some obscure ones out. I've been getting out the DC Encyclopedia and prowling Wikipedia and going, "Oh! I wonder if anyone remembers her?"

NRAMA: How did you come up with the story? You had already told us that this was something DC wanted you to do as opposed to something you pitched to them, right?

KG: Yeah, once again, I got a call from Dan DiDio and he said, "Here we go..." They wanted to do a book about a war in Hell. I think specifically, one of the reasons they wanted to do it was to get some ground rules for the mystics in the DCU and do something more with them, because Michael Moorcock had written this wonderful bible about magic in the DC Universe that somehow fell through the cracks. So I've been using a lot of that as source material when it comes to magic in the book. Other than that, it was Dan calling and saying, "There's a war in Hell." And he wanted to have some kind of regime change in Hell. I'm not going to tell you which character or characters wind up being in charge of Hell.

NRAMA: We'll have to wait for the story to figure that one out. But what appealed to you about doing a series about Hell?

KG: It's world-building. I love world-building. It was like, redefine Hell. I knew I wanted to stay away from the fire pits and the naked demons running around with pitchforks – all of the visual luggage of Hell that we've been dragging around earth since Dante. I wanted to see if I could push the concept in a different direction and make it a more ... well, I don't want to say "interesting" place, because after all, it's Hell... but I want to separate DC's version of Hell from every other version out there. There's no way on earth you're going to look at DC's Hell when we're done and say, "Oh, it's just like Mephisto."

Although I hear that Neron does have a little bit of a superhero divorce business running on the side.

NRAMA: [laughs] Uh oh. Flash and Linda, watch out.

KG: Yeah. Lois! Watch your back!

NRAMA: Now this is a different tone and overall approach than you have with your other big project right now, where you're returning to Ambush Bug and doing the same kind of thing with the character that you did before.

KG: I wouldn't call it the same kind of thing.

NRAMA: Well, it's similar, isn't it?

KG: Keep in mind that between when Ambush Bug came out and now, a lot of humorous books have come along and sort of picked up the ball. I mean, I've been responsible for some of them, like Heckler, and we've had Major Bummer, we had John Byrne's run on She-Hulk. A lot of stories have been told in the, I think it's 13 years since we've had an Ambush Bug book?

NRAMA: OK, but I was going to ask which one excites you more, or do you feel best having both kinds of projects – the serious world-building like you're doing in Reign in Hell, similar to what you did in Annihilation, or something like Ambush Bug?

KG: As long as I'm allowed to move forward and try to find interesting new ways to tell stories instead of having to plunder the past, I'm a happy camper. I love the world-building of a book like Reign in Hell. I love being able to come in and say, OK, we're going to make some changes that have long-range ramifications and hopefully return some dignity to some characters. And then returning to a character, especially like Ambush Bug, that's just a fun project.

And I think it's a good idea to have different projects with different tones. It keeps you on your toes. I'd hate to think I would go from Reign in Hell to another horror book to another horror book to another book about the devil.

NRAMA: You use the word, "horror." Is Reign in Hell going to be a horror book?

KG: It's going to feel like one. We understand we're dealing with DC superheroes and we understand it's the DC version of Hell. But that doesn't mean it has to echo that whole superhero world. So yeah, I'm going for some real horrific imagery. I'm looking at this as a sort of horror story masquerading as a superhero book instead of the other way around.

NRAMA: You're working with Matthew Clark on this?

KG: Yeah. He's handing in some design work and gearing up for it, because one of the things I said was we really need to do something different with these characters. I want to keep what looks good about them, but ditch the rest. I asked him to give us this whole new look so we're moving into a different realm, and we can almost treat it as if these characters are being introduced for the first time. And he's just been knocking it out of the ballpark.

NRAMA: It sounds like a lot of older characters that you're dusting off for this series are seeing some changes.

KG: I'll give you an example. Does anyone remember the archdemon Asmodel? I'm going to say no. But when I stumbled across him, I said, OK, here's one. And he looks kind of ridiculous. So I said, do something with him – just don't hand me that thing. I looked through the DC Encyclopedia and searched for anyone who had a source of power that said, "infernal." Then I tried to figure out if I could work with the character. Can something be done with this character? And how much of what this character is should we keep? And no surprise to me: Very little.

It's a chance to rethink the concept of Hell, and I've always been of the mind that, if you're going to rethink it, you have to make the characters work, even if it means discarding parts of the character from previous appearances if that stuff obviously didn't work, or if it's dated. The one thing I told Matt Clark is that I didn't want to see any naked little demons running around.

NRAMA: Yeah, but how are we going to know it's Hell if there's nobody with pitchforks? [laughs]

KG: You'll know. Trust me: You'll know.

NRAMA: OK, we'll have to wait and see what that means. But before you go, Keith, there was a preview of Dreamwar, your Wildstorm/DC crossover that showed up last week on Newsarama, and it had what appeared to be the Wolfman/Perez era of the Teen Titans. Now, we had talked about this crossover before, and it was just assumed that it was the current DCU that was going to be showing up in the current WSU. Does this preview mean it's a past era of the DCU that's showing up?

KG: Well... that's the Teen Titans that are crossing over.

NRAMA: Then... does that mean the other characters from the DCU who show up in the WSU will be from that era too?

KG: Let's just say that just because we've seen the Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans doesn't necessarily mean you're going to see the Justice League or any of the other heroes from that era. What we're crossing over here is the DCU, but it's not a time-consistent DCU. With the preview, you've seen which Teen Titans version is crossing over. Now the question becomes, which Justice League version? Which version of the Legion of Super-Heroes? Which version of what characters are going to be showing up, and how the hell can they show up in the Wildstorm Universe being from different times without traveling through time or crossing the Multiverse?

I remember Asmodel, goddamn it. Giffen had better remember that Asmodel is being held in Heaven right now, not Hell.
It doesn't sound like he's planning to research much about Asmodel or any other obscure characters. :(

Although, really, I could go for a redesign of Asmodel's costume myself. He was scarier as the little boy than he was in his eye-suit.
Is Asmodel the guy that Superman wrestled? If he is, then he needs no redesign of any sort and to suggest such a thing would be blasphemy indeed.


Note the eye motif on Asmodel's armor--a clear reference to a similar motif common in Babylonian (?) art and mythology. Similarly, he bears a nose ring and is the "Lord Harrier of the Bull Host" (page 7); bulls played a prominent role in the Assyro-Babylonian mythology. (Elmo points out that "in Biblical symbology the Bull, Eagle, Lion, and Man represent the four canonical gospels. Zauriel belongs to the Eagle Host, This is our first sighting to Asmodel. He is the villain of the piece, as fits his name, which is a variant of "Asmodeus," who in Hebrew mythology was an evil spirit. Asmodeus was originally Persian in origin, as the demon "Aeshma," who was one of the seven archangels of Persian mythology. Asmodeus was also identified in medieval times with Ashmedai, who in Hebrew mythology was the king of the demons.
He can see everybody in the entire world, but only when they take a s**t.

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