Review – Wonder Woman/Justice League Dark: Witching Hour #1 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artwork: Jesus Merino, Fernando Blanco, Miguel Mendonça
Colours: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Letters: Rob Leigh
Release Date: 31st October 2018

Wonder Woman is as good as dead, Zatanna and Constantine are all but powerless trying to exorcise a literal dark goddess and the rest of the League are scattered throughout the globe and multiverse.  With no magic, no backup and a world falling apart at the seams, the stakes really don’t get any higher than this.

In this the finale to the JLD’s “Witching Hour” storyline, we’re given a satisfying end to what has been a downward spiral for our heroes as they fight against a seemingly unbeatable Hecate.  This issue does the same thing the previous issues have done so well, namely jumping between the different characters fighting their own unique battles before pulling everything together for the final push against the villain.

Tynion IV maintains the balance here, shining the spotlight on each aspect of the failing world while providing some shining examples of our team in action. Detective Chimp has been one of the standout surprises for me in this story, playing the role of the hero thrown into the magic world against his will when he’d much rather drink away the rest of eternity in the pub. And since issue one, he has gradually gone from the grumpy quasi-comic relief to one of the first to jump into battle.

Swamp Thing has maintained his presence throughout, staying true to the ‘outsider’ nature of his character and only joining to preserve the green. And, after the events of this issue it’s clear that things are going to take a very interesting turn for ol’ Swampy.

While it initially looked like Zatanna would be the lead and Constantine just a fleeting cameo, their relationship has been a strong part of the story and I’ve really loved the almost ‘cheerleader’ role they’ve played for each other to this point. Just as one is ready to give in, the other would metaphorically or physically slap them in the face to motivate them to get up and save the day.  John has been in every issue and we’ve been given some interesting confirmations that will either play into another solo series or the rest of the main JLD series. Zatanna finds herself in a similar situation, and her connection to the darker side of her past is sure to have a huge payoff later on, and we get just enough here to light the fuse on that particular little plot bomb.

Through it all though, the main star has always been Wonder Woman, and much like I’ve said in my previous reviews, this arc has been a fantastic justification of her role as the leader of this particular gang of magical misfits. Her journey to the final fight solidifies her strength as a fighter, magic user and by the end of it (while things return to as normal as they can get) gives the character a greater sense of importance when it comes to magic and the threats that go hand in hand with its use.

The artists create a fantastic visual finale to the show, using an almost cinematic approach to separate the characters and scenes, and providing different techniques and tones to the types of magic. It’s not only a good way of continuing to break up the story but also of showing the different strengths the characters have against this huge evil Goddess of a foe. While the violence isn’t as full-on ‘horror show’ as the mutated cadavers in issue one, the portrayal of the Hecate-possessed Diana is bloody off-putting, with those jet black eyes bleeding into the white flame of her skin.  While still obviously the superhero we all know and love, the visual design really emphasises the terror of a hero-turned-homicidal-maniac.

As I mentioned above, this issue delivers a great payoff to the storyline, and one which completely silences any and all doubts I may have had when I first started reading this series. The action is fast and explosive, while also maintaining a solid line of storytelling so that it doesn’t feel like everything has been squeezed into this last issue. Yes, I’d have liked to see more of the new recruits like Man-Bat, but at the same time the story ends in a way that shows DC have a lot more in store for this dirty dozen of mages and mystical creatures.

Rating: 4/5.


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

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