I’ve always been curious why DC Comics doesn’t explore magic more often. They have excellent magical characters like Constantine, Dr. Fate, and Zatanna, yet this realm is usually relegated to little more than a random demon sighting and a quick story to resolve things. Not so in Justice League Dark, since writer James Tynion IV and artist Alvaro Martinez are opening things up and revealing an entire team may be necessary to keep the lid on magic from killing everything in sight.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
A LESSON IN EVIL Erica is now under the tutelage of Baron Muster, who has taken it upon himself to school her in the ways of villainy. Erica displays an uncanny knack for being bad, making her the perfect pupil, but her young mind and fresh perspectives also prove to be a boon in Muster’s search for a legendary Martian treasure. With Erica’s help, Muster and his team make it to a secret labyrinth that houses the famed treasure, but before Muster can finally get his long-awaited prize, an unexpected turn puts everything into jeopardy…
Why does this matter?
James Tynion IV can write a very good team book so we know we’re in good hands for a story like this. He’s also writing a story that may change the DC universe forever. You can’t argue how awesome this team lineup is too.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This book opens and closes with nice bookends focusing on Wonder Woman. Ever since the promotional materials came out, it was clear Wonder Woman was the linchpin of this team and that not only made this take on the Justice League Dark interesting, but promised a new approach to how Wonder Woman would be written. These opening and closing scenes help flesh out her character and tie her directly to the realm of magic and the weird, giving this single issue an identity all its own.
In between the opening and closing is a lot of content–shockingly so–with fight scenes, revelations, contemplations from Swamp Thing, and further plot development. This comic series is very economical and very good at delivering a lot of entertainment in a 20 page package. Highlights include Dr. Fate showing up, zombie beasts getting torn apart, and Wonder Woman losing her patience.
Martinez is doing great work here too. I appreciate how robust Wonder Woman is, reminding us she’s super strong and super built. The gore continues to be a highlight which is a reminder this is a book for adults. There are some interesting layout choices too (like Swamp Thing and his massive beard, cutting a full page down the center), which help keep your imagination flowing.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It’s a slight spoiler, but Constantine shows up and it’s done in a too convenient way. For pacing issues Tynion must have needed him in this scene, but there’s no buildup and he arrives as if by magic (yes I know that is probably the actual answer, but still). This scene feels a bit forced, cutting away from the driving force of the main plot.
Is it good?
This is the type of comic anyone can appreciate because it’s not holding back in any way. There’s a ton of content here and a lot going on further increasing the value of every read. Tynion and Martinez are delving into a realm that is fresh, weird, and engrossing.