Magic is damaged, and a team of heroes rises up to tackle the problems of the DCU in Justice League Dark #1 from DC Comics.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
Inks: Raul Fernandez
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover Art: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
Variant Cover: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, FCO Plascencia
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: Recent events in the DCU (Justice League: No Justice, Dark Nights: Metal) have left magic in a damaged state. Magic users who at one time had total control of their spells are now endangering people by using even the most trivial spell. In an effort to solve the problem, the Justice League has authorized a Justice League Dark to be created to confront the mystery and fix magic. It’s up to Wonder Woman to gather that team.
It is turning out to be more difficult than she realized.
HEY! WATCH ME PULL A RABBIT OUTTA MY HAT!
Our story begins with the bewitching stage sorceress, Zatanna, in the process of opening her act at the very theater her father, Zatara, once owned. She explains the unwritten rules of agreement between the magician and their audience to the reader, and even as she does, a simple trick goes horribly wrong. An unnamable horror from some dark realm emerges and attacks the unsuspecting audience. Wonder Woman, aware of the problems with magic, arrives and assists Zatanna in fighting back the beast, but it becomes quickly evident that Zatanna’s spells are no longer reliable. This isn’t the first time Wonder Woman has approached her about assisting in investigating the problem of the world’s magic, and it apparently is not the first time Zatanna has turned her down on joining her Justice League Dark. Zatanna is convinced that the problem with magic must be handled by magic-users, and so she goes to a meeting of the magic community where they plan to discuss the matter. While she decides if she wants to walk in, she is met by a certain English mage/con-man who, well, I’m not really sure what Constantine was doing, other than making an appearance and trying to show that he was going to watch out for number one.
While Zatanna joins in on the meeting of the magic community, and in the process catches what seems to be a spy in their midst, Wonder Woman has traveled to The Oblivion Bar, in an effort to recruit more of the community to her side. But since the death of The Nightmaster, the bar has fallen on hard times. The only people there are Bobo, The Detective Chimp, and Traci Thirteen. Bobo takes up Wonder Woman’s cause and the two leave for the Justice League Dark’s headquarters where they meet and other “member” of the team. Before the end of the issue, the fledgling “team” is attacked, and circumstances force some who had turned down Wonder Woman’s offer to reconsider.
IT’S THE OTHER KIND OF PROBLEM
James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) attempts to take the idea of a magic team of heroes and solidify it into a Justice League of Magic. I realize that this was done before in the first Justice League Dark series which ran from 2011 through 2015, but this time is a little different. Tynion has grounded this team with a mainstream hero in the form of Wonder Woman, and that just feels a little odd. In previous series, there would be involvement from the mainstream heroes, but ultimately it was the duty of the mystics to get the job done. Here, the magic community is almost in denial and a hero is trying to goad them into action, with little result. That said, Tynion has included Detective Chimp and a rather peculiar Kirk Langstrom. Detective Chimp is a pleasure to read as he is a tragic character and seems to know it. He refuses to take advantage of his tragedy and that serves to endear him to the reader even more and make his plight that much more tragic. This interpretation of Kirk Langstrom is unique as well. I am not sure how long he has been in the state he appears here, but this appearance makes me want to know more about the character. And the bowtie, I love me some bowties.
The art work in this issue is served up with pencils by Alvaro Martinez Bueno (Robin War, Batman Eternal) and inks by Raul Fernandez (Detective Comics, Mystique). To be honest, it is a mixed bag. While the interpretations of Man-Bat & Swamp Thing are spectacular and worth the price of admission in and of themselves, the anatomy of many characters was plagued with problems. The colors by Brandon Anderson seemed to fix some of these issues, or at least attempt to, but even then the placement of colors to the original line work and shadow lines caused for some odd effects and flat surfaces. However, these are minor issues, and overall the book has solid art with nice details and panel construction.
BOTTOM LINE: PROMISING, BUT MAGIC? THAT REMAINS TO BE SEEN
Despite some issues, both in the writing and the art, Justice League Dark looks like it will most likely evolve into a must buy. Right now, there are just a few issues you may want to know about going it. However, the portrayal of several characters, Detective Chimp and Kirk Langstrom especially, is a treat and worth your time. Hopefully, the rest of the book will catch up with them.