Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artwork: Alvaro Martinez Bueno (pencils), Raul Fernandez (inks)
Colours: Brad Anderson
Lettering: Rob Leigh
Release Date: 22nd August 2018
Justice League Dark has an unnusual tone to it. It manages to deliver a sense of familiarity from the New 52 issues while also bringing completely new at the same time. Times have changed, massive events have shifted the shape of the universe and its characters, so while it’s still a return to the same type of dark magic story from all those years ago the characters have grown significantly in the interim.
DC have always made huge arcs over the years, and while sometimes they’ve been hit or miss (poor Tim Drake can attest to that) they have always been grounded in the idea of repercussions, and how those repercussions impact the ongoing stories that follow. For instance, the first two issues of this series lead straight on from Snyder’s Metal and No Justice stories with the Justice League now well aware of the importance of defending against magic. Wonder Woman has been placed in charge of investigating a series of deaths in the magical community, gathering up any help she can against the oncoming storm.
Just as with the original JLD team everyone is against the idea of joining up, all content to brood and deal with it on their own. But with Zatanna left powerless, Detective Chimp now in charge of defending a magical kingdom, Manbat on a mission to atone for his sins and Swamp Thing trying to grab hold of the last of his lost humanity, their hands are forced in a shaky alliance as the source of magic is returning to take what was stolen millennia ago. These first two issues have set the scene wonderfully, capturing the essence of the dirty dozen aesthetic of the first JLD with an equally entertaining premise.
Following the events of issue one the team narrowly escape the magical zombies and set off in search of help from Doctor Fate to figure out just what the hell is happening. The rising darkness has been a long time coming indeed, and has spread its roots into more of the world than we first thought, to the point where we don’t know who we can trust or even who will make it out alive.
The grotesque Gothic horror artwork from Bueno and Fernandez is something straight out of John Carpenter’s The Thing with a magic twist and familiar characters shown in a different light. I was very dubious at first with the choice of including Wonder Woman but she acts in a similar way to Batman in the animated film, serving as the straight one in a world she isn’t hugely familiar with, relying on her strength and her teammates to get through. The story itself weaves in many characters we’ve met in a unique way, bringing in Zatanna’s relationship with her father to the forefront and the classic Constantine and Swamp thing duo as an intriguing side plot. Tynion IV ensures that each character is given their own time to shine and each gets to show their own reaction to this dark and mysterious world.
It’s a true ensemble piece, dripping with Easter Eggs that made my jaw drop as we get to watch the evolution of an unlikely team thrown in at the deep end of another apocalypse. And after this issue, I’m waiting with bated breath to see just how our new team is going to make it out of this one.
The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
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