The finale to the first story arc of the series! Enchantress’s untempered magic has been driving the world insane and regular heroes suck at magic. There is only one group who can stop this magical maelstrom of mayhem and that is a Justice League that is mysterious, spooky, and all together ooky. But can even the team that Madame Xanadu has forced together possibly prevail? Well, spoiler alert, there is going to be an issue six.
Yes, this is the issue that puts the finishing touches on this particular plot line and sees all the characters finally standing in the same room. Pose as a team, this comic just got real. Even so, this is not your standard heroes team up story, for reasons that become very obvious. These are also the reasons that drew me to the comic in the first place. That is to say, all these characters are really cool and can meet on a thematically similar occult basis, but they suck as a team. All of these characters are supreme loners and it just does not make a lot of sense that they would work well together on a team. Which is why, even once they have all gotten together, they don’t. I think this is probably the most polarizing aspect of this comic.
More so than the frequent contextual clips of insanity, the thing that might put a lot of readers off is that this is a team comic without a team. Here we have people like Zatanna, who extricates herself from the Justice League, Shade, who wears a garment that is literally insane, Deadman, who possesses people, and John Constantine, who is just generally a dick. Even when there seems to be a team forming to tackle the threat together, the group dynamic falls apart immediately. I won’t spoil the fun of exactly how, but I found the complete failure by these characters to work together rang very true.
In the end, the day is saved by just one member of the team. All the other members are in varying states of disarray and the one who puts things right does so completely out of self-service. It is in no way an especially heroic finale to the crisis. To my mind, that is great. That is what we have fifteen other super hero teams for. If you are looking for a Justice League that just uses magic, then you are out of luck. If you are looking for some great characters who happen to be shoved under a title that will sell books, then the winner is you. This is certainly Justice League Dark, emphasis on the Dark.
Of course, there is the unspoken promise that at some point or another these characters will have to resemble more of a team. When exactly that is going to materialize is something I imagine only Peter Milligan knows. Certainly my hope is that the transformation will happen organically so that, by the time this is a real team, readers will be able to believe it. There is also the potential view that Milligan is just drawing this story out and postponing the team building is nothing but a play for time and I cannot entirely fault this line of reasoning. I guess we will just have to see who is right in the end.
As always, Mikel Janin’s art is sublime. For some reason, I have yet to give credit to colorist Ulises Arreola, but let me correct that mistake right now. There are some truly terrifying and awe-inspiring pieces of art here and I continue to believe that this is one of the best drawn books this side of Animal Man. It is dark and sinister and wonderful. However, the colors are what really makes these works the gorgeous final products that they are. If you like glowing, then you are in for a treat. There is something like six solid pages of glowing stuff in this book and it is really neat to look at. As a whole, the art in this book is truly fantastic and acts as the absolutely essential accompaniment to the scenes Milligan imagines.
So the first arc of our story comes to a close and I maintain that Justice League Dark is one of the best books on sale today. We have yet to see if Milligan can bring these characters together in a cohesive way or if it is just going to end up being a book with two many singular protagonists. Whether you want to see this as a weakness or a point of potential is up to you, but I certainly can’t wait to see what comes next.