Review – Justice League Dark #3 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artwork: Alvaro Martinez Bueno (pencils), Raul Fernandez (inks)
Colours: Brad Anderson
Lettering: Rob Leigh
Release Date: 26th June 2018

Wow, what an issue. Straight from the cliff hanger cause by last issue’s seemingly hopeless double cross from Doctor Fate we see our makeshift team of unwilling heroes battling against the godlike Upside-down Man. Taking on the personification of the original source of magic with seemingly limitless powers would be hard enough even without the fact that the magical beings of the JLD are now left without their magic. Surely there’s no hope?

Well, that’s exactly what it felt like for most of this issue, and it’s one of the things I admire most about this incarnation of a darker superhero team. Not only do none of them really want to be there, but the grand scale of the problem just seems too big to overcome. The previous issues have shown things getting worse and worse, and most of this issue features more of the same.

However, in these most desperate of times we see our heroes showing their true colours in some very unexpected ways. Detective Chimp steps up to the plate and his newly appointed duties, Manbat shows he’s really trying to make amends, and my boy John – while still unquestionably the loner of the group – shows just how powerful he can be in one particularly brilliant panel. And, to make sure he isn’t to be confused with the other heroic types, still asks for his smokes afterwards.

However, James Tynion IV’s main storyline tidbits come with the characters of Zatanna and Wonder Woman. This is now without a doubt a story focused on these two, with both being forced to face their past during this oncoming storm. Zatanna is learning that her father knew more about this than he let on when she was growing up. Diana on the other hand, while initially looking like the odd one out in this group of Magical misfits, has realised that her childhood brush with a strange cult had some hidden consequences which rightly place her as the leader of the team.

I loved this issue, and I’m happy to confirm that I’m now fully along for the ride with the new crew. Tynion, Bueno, Fernandez and Anderson have managed to strike just the right level of darkness here, separating the series from the rest of DC while still keeping the characters feeling suitably true to themselves.

It felt like a bit of a gamble at first, but it works so well to deliver what has clearly been an incredibly well thought out story, and one that will keep any fans of the last incarnation of the JLD happy. It keeps throwing curveballs at the reader to keep them on their toes, while dropping huge storyline bombs along the way. I’ve been purposefully vague about these “bombs” so as not to spoil them, but it’s also partially because there’s still so much left unknown about this new and terrifying threat. A villain whose aura is on par with the unsettling feeling I got reading the Batman Who Laughs.

Rating: 4/5.


The writer of this piece was: Indiana “Indy” Marlow
Indy Tweets from @smokingpunkindy

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