James Tynion IV’s Justice League Dark, #1-2

First, a disclaimer: I almost never read single-issue comics, for reasons that will become clear. Secondly, I haven’t been following DC’s Justice League Dark, a series first introduced in 2011. In fact, I have to confess to not being a big fan of the DC Universe as a whole. That said, I was persuaded to take a look at the new series, written by James Tynion IV.

The first number opens with a performance by Zatanna for an enraptured audience. Then, suddenly, as she pulls a rabbit out of her top hat — you have to pull a rabbit out of a hat — the magic suddenly runs amok. (Remember, Zatanna is a real magician, not an illusionist.) Other things come out of the hat, nasty things that start attacking the audience. Wonder Woman arrives to save the day. Wonder Woman has been trying to get Zatanna to join the Justice League — magic has started to go awry, in more than this instance, and the League realizes it needs the help of specialists. As the story develops, not only Zatanna but John Constantine, Detective Chimp, the Man-Bat, and Swamp Thing get dragged into the conflict. In the meantime, Jason Blood, human host of the demon Etrigan, is trying to assemble a force of his own to combat the problem, which he says is that the original owners of magic are coming back, and it’s going to get really, really nasty. The quest for a solution leads them to the Tower of Fate, but, as might be expected, what they see is not what they get.

The story is a bit chaotic at the start, exacerbated by the fact that it seems like every other page is an ad (and now you know why I avoid single-issue comics). It does come together, but please note that there are a lot of references to previous stories, so if you’re not up on the DC Universe, there are going to be gaps that you’ll have to fill in by inference.

The art (pencils by Alvaro Martínez Buen,inks by Raul Fernandez, color by Brad Anderson) is appealing — nice, muscular drawing with solid characterizations, although some sequences are dense enough and active enough — at the same time — to be hard to read. Color is handled well — the dark, spooky parts are suitably dark and spooky, but use of “mood colors” is kept to a minimum.

It’s hard to judge from two numbers, but this series looks to be engaging enough so that I’m tempted to follow up on it — although I think I’ll wait for the trade paper collected edition. Who knows? I may be inspired to dig into the DC Universe again.

(DC Comics, 2018)

About Robert Tilendis

Robert M. Tilendis lives a deceptively quiet life. He has made money as a dishwasher, errand boy, legal librarian, arts administrator, shipping expert, free-lance writer and editor, and probably a few other things he’s tried very hard to forget about. He has also been a student of history, art, theater, psychology, ceramics, and dance. Through it all, he has been an artist and poet, just to provide a little stability in his life. Along about January of every year, he wonders why he still lives someplace as mundane as Chicago; it must be that he likes it there.

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