Justice League Dark Volume 1 – The Last Age of Magic (2019)
Writer – James Tynion IV
Artists – Alvaro Martinez Bueno and Daniel Sampere
Working from home has its benefits and one of those is leaving my abode to go for a walk when the weather is nice. I took a jaunt over to the neighborhood of Brookline to visit their Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. One of the graphic novel collections I borrowed was Justice League Dark Volume 1. I completely forgot that James Tynion IV was part of this run and that was one of the reasons I grabbed it.
When Zatanna’s latest magic act almost ends in the death of her and her audience, its only by the timely intervention of Wonder Woman that everyone is saved. Diana informs Zatanna that magic is wildly out of control and killing those that wield it. She is recruiting a group of heroes and adventurers to solve this problem before it’s too late. Those in the magic community hold a meeting to see if they can resolve this issue within their ranks. Diana is able to recruit Detective Chimp to her cause and they visit her base of operations in the bowels of the Hall of Justice where its revealed Man-Bat has been helping Diana. By the end of the first issue, a dire warning from the ghost of Zatanna’s father, Zatara, reveals that a hero will end up betraying everyone, leading to the death of magic and Earth itself by the Otherkind and their handpicked harbinger of doom, The Upside-Down Man.
When you look at the cover art, you think to yourself, what an odd pairing of heroes for a reformed Justice League Dark, especially when you had a stacked lineup during the New 52. It might seem like a misfire or mish mash of random heroes but it’s great to see Wonder Woman in a leadership role with Detective Chimp trying to honor the last wishes of Nightmaster and Man-Bat seeking redemption for his long history as a villain. Adding Swamp Thing as the heavyweight powerhouse gives some credibility to the team and there are a few cameos throughout the first few issues to help this team try to repel the forces of evil.
What does this series disservice is how it is collected. The first volume contains Issues 1 through 3 and Issues 5 through 7. Issue 4 was part of a crossover with Wonder Woman called The Witching Hour. In hindsight, I would have liked to pause reading this volume after Issue 3 and read The Witching Hour before continuing on because there are some important plot points you need to be aware of before reading Issue 4. Don’t make the same mistake I did. I’ll most likely read the Witching Hour before the next volume. My favorite issues were the back end of the volume where the team travels to Myrra where they fix a mistake Detective Chimp caused in his role as the new Nightmaster and Issue 7 where it’s presented in a Tales from the Crypt/Creepshow homage format with Man-Bat presenting 4 stories that reveal the Justice League Dark’s battles with the Otherkind.
James Tynion IV does a great job of honoring the heroes and villains of magic that came before by bringing them back in some shape and form as they face off against creatures and monsters that will keep you up at night or make you want to check under the bed before you lay your head on your pillow. Bueno and Sampere’s designs for these vile and vicious villains are on par with James Wan’s creations.
James Tynion IV is slowing becoming a master of horror and will most assuredly join the ranks of those we already honor and revere today.
If you are digging Something is Killing the Children and Worldtr33, I’d go back and read this run from JTIV because I’m sure like me, you may have missed out on this the first time around.
If it gets too scary, just quietly repeat to yourself, it’s just a comic book…. it’s just a comic book.