JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: FUTURE’S END #1 is an entertaining tie-in that features a solid team dynamic.
The issue opens with Zatanna’s Justice League stranded in a void-like dimension with no sign of escape. The team has fractured in their despair. While the event is never made clear, it becomes quickly apparent that Zatanna’s actions have allowed the team to drift apart. Etrigan is enthralled by Zatanna while Cassandra Craft awaits the fulfillment of a prophecy and Black Orchid and Nightmare Nurse have begun to plot against their leader.
The tension comes to a head when they pick up a man floating in the drift of the dimensions. Each member of the the team has their own concerns as to who the man is and how to deal with him. The man gives his name as Eric Augustine and explains that he was part of a supernatural cult that surfed the ways between dimensions before becoming trapped in the dimension the Justice League Dark has found themselves in.
Ultimately, however, this proves to be a fabrication, orchestrated by Phantom Stranger villain, Non. Seeking to consume the team’s combined magical energies, he has used Eric Augustine to lure them to their doom. Zatanna, seeing that her team can escape if she holds off Non for long enough, leaves their abode and takes Non head on. Ultimately, though, the team puts aside their differences to defeat Non, resulting in a Pyrrhic victory. By fighting Non, the team has condemned themselves to further wandering in this dimension with no apparent escape.
Len Wein’s script for JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: FUTURE’S END #1 is solid. Etrigan’s rhyming scheme can be difficult to maintain, but Wein plays well with the demon’s cadences. Also deftly handled is the Eric Augustine character. It would be easy for a lesser writer to misstep on J.M. DeMatteis’ story and either overwrite or underwrite Augustine. Wein strikes a nice balance, delivering just enough character that readers buy into his story before the reveal of his possession by Non. Oh, and that last bit between Augustine and Etrigan? Genius.
Equally strong as Wein’s script is the artwork by Andres Guinaldo, Walden Wong and Chris Sotomayor. Guinaldo’s layouts are varied, with panels that overlay one another nicely on the page. Wong’s inks and Sotomayor’s colors both play well with one another, creating a supernatural atmosphere that permeates throughout the issue. Especially nice is the way Augustine’s back story is displayed. The page almost feels as if it were inlaid on a stone tablet.
If there is one real flaw to JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: FUTURE’S END #1, it is J.M. DeMatteis’ story. While Wein’s script does wonders with the space allowed, there isn’t a lot of room to give any of the story’s developments real weight. The ambiguity to Zatanna’s past actions also makes it difficult to buy into the group’s actions. Had readers been given a glimpse into what she had done that had hurt her team so or how they came to be in this predicament, it might have made their reunion at the end more meaningful.
Ultimately, JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: FUTURE’S END #1 is an oddity where the technical aspects of the book elevate a standard story to be something worth reading. The trio of artists on the book do a stellar job bringing the otherworldly environment to life, and Wein’s script nails some solid character moments.