The current arc of Justice League Dark has seen the team split up into different sub-teams, and each sub-team has been fighting off a different threat. Zatanna had to face reunion with her father in a rather roundabout way, while Frankenstein, Bennett, Swamp Thing and Asa have confronted a dark, future version of Felix Faust who has gone insane. Which leaves just Deadman, Black Orchid and Madame Xanadu. The previous three issues of the series have seen the team under a lot of pressure and each has done something to move past the challenge before them and set about restoring their unity.
Which is where this new issue of the title comes in, and in a big way too. First Zatanna, then the team of four, have had to face some very obvious but also subtle challenges. For Boston, Black Orchid and Xanadu however, it is pretty much subtle all the way, for they are caught in a web the likes of which they cannot begin to imagine. And at the same time, while we don’t get to see the team of four doing anything this time, we see Zee trying to find a way to bring her entire team together, and by the time the issue ends, something rather disturbing happens, leaving another big gaping mystery for the heroes.
While Zee finds herself at a time before time, and the team of four finds itself at a time after time, the remaining three members of the (extended) Justice League Dark find themselves at a time… with time. They are trapped in a constant state of time where everything is and nothing is, where things happen but also have happened for an unknowable measure of time. It is a rather interesting paradox to present to the various team members, and in the case of these three, it works out rather interestingly.
Admittedly, parts of this issue felt like they were just treading water. There was too much talking going on and not enough action. And when you throw in characters like Madame Xanadu, Deadman and Black Orchid together, you really do expect to see some great action, but that’s not what happens here. Instead, we see them act through the motions of discovering where they are and then finding some kind of… help in that environment, which pretty much mirrors the previous two issues in terms of the narrative approach.
Things don’t really kick off until the final third of the issue actually, and that’s when everything starts to happen all at once. We get the big action, the big change in status quo, the whole jazz, and the story finally steps up to deliver something major, something that moves the entire plot forward rather than just waiting it out till the adventures of this group of characters is done with and everything links back up.
With the pacing really taking off in those final pages, we are one step closer to the resolution of the story, which I think will come next month, since there’s actually one member of the team we haven’t seen yet, Constantine himself. He’s not with Zatanna, not with Asa and her group, not with Deadman and the others. Where is he? What happened to him when the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets did their thing at the end of the recent Justice League Dark Annual 2014?
Clearly, there’s a major showdown that J. M. DeMatteis is building towards and I can’t wait to see what happens. Maybe it will be strung up across two more issues, or finish next month only. Either way, I’m excited for it all!
Andres Guinaldo is the penciller here with Walden Wong on inks, Chris Sotomayor on colours, Taylor Esposito on letters, and the duo of Guillem March and Tomeu Morey on the cover. I don’t know why, but the art this time wasn’t as impressive as I’ve come to expect. The characterwork just seemed rushed this time since often the characters had weird expressions on their faces or the camera angles themselves were weird. The inks and colours are pretty straightforward and decent, but the pencilwork wasn’t to the usual high standards here.
Still, a pretty decent issue when all things are concerned.