Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Jesus Merino
Colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr.
The first chapter of the 5 part weekly series has arrived and it is a fabulous beginning to an eagerly anticipated event. The writing has been on the wall for Diana for some time now as recent cosmic and magical events have forced her to acknowledge the very dark forces that have been compromising and influencing her recent actions. It’s time for her to face these forces head on and thankfully she won’t be alone as right by her side are Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Detective Chimp, Man-Bat and Constantine.
It should be said that if you want some background on what’s been happening to Diana and her team you really should pick up the first 3 issues of Justice League Dark, which would then enable you to be fully engrossed and appreciative of the story and, not to mention the event as a whole, that starts here. James Tynion IV has been penning that title and this story picks up pretty much right after issue #3 where Diana had just fought off and banished the Upside-Down Man, a cosmic being from a race now known as The Other Kind.
Tynion’s story is full of narration and dialogue but never does it feel cumbersome. The exposition of new and re-imagined characters that are vital to his story are entertaining and concise. In an era of padding out stories to make them fit to trade, Tynion has bucked the trend and given us so much story and background in one admittedly over-sized issue, but he’s done it without killing any of the momentum when it comes to the action depicted.
Lots of answers are revealed in this issue as you find out what the brand on Diana’s forehead means, who is responsible for putting it there, what it means for the magical community, and by extension, the entire planet. While the subject matter is quite dark and the stakes quite high, this doesn’t stop Tynion from throwing in a lot of humor during tense moments that don’t feel forced and provide great levity when required. These well timed quips might remind you of moments in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Wynonna Earp, where the presence of humor was almost a prerequisite when deflecting from the absurdity of the latest apocalyptic event.
What also makes this issue so attractive is the absolutely amazing art by Jesus Merino and Romulo Fajardo Jr. If you have been exposed to any of the preview and panel pages that have been shared in recent weeks then you will already know how promising the art was looking for this special. The art goes well beyond the promise and over delivers. Merino recently finished a stint on Wonder Woman where he was ably supported by Romulo Fajardo Jr. and the two of them combine again here to deliver some of the most engrossing artistic work I have seen in the Rebirth era of DC Comics.
It seems that there is no character that Merino cannot draw well. All the big players make an appearance in this issue and there are lots of new ones too, but somehow they all look familiar and fresh. Accomplishing a task such as this is not easy and Merino should be very proud of his work in this issue. Fajardo Jr. really has his work cut out for him this issue with all the numerous settings and characters that are involved across numerous splash pages but Fajardo does not let that phase him as he delivers just a hint of warmth and light in a heavily cold and dark issue, setting the tone perfectly. Fajardo will do this every time you read an issue he has colored – the man is consistency personified.
If that is still not enough, then make sure you check out the amazing variant cover by Riccardo Federici depicting Wonder Woman in a state of full possession against a dark harlequin backdrop as dark matter bindings envelope her whole body. It is downright freaky and scary but at the same time something you could stare at for hours.
With the endings of Metal and No Justice leaving readers feeling a little flat, the attention now turns to Tynion, whose stock has probably never been higher since he begun work on the refreshed Justice League titles. Tynion has taken another great step forward with this special, but he will need to deliver a worthy conclusion before we can even think about praising an entire DC event for coming up with the goods from start to finish.
9 out of 10
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