The disparate plots from the previous issues of Justice League Dark finally begin to weave back together again in Justice League Dark #38. The issue begins by picking up with Nightmare Nurse, Frankenstein, Swamp Thing, and Andrew Bennett sailing on their magical ship through the ether. Their voyage has been long and tensions are beginning to rise, with Swamp Thing offering Bennett a one-way trip overboard.
However, things begin to look more hopeful as both Swamp Thing and Nightmare Nurse sense the presence of the Green. And in the void, they are actively rescued by a pollen-like structure that whisks them off the page. Justice League Dark #38 then cuts to Deadman, Black Orchid, and Xanadu, still trapped in a land where time runs without end and a wave of their impending doom crashing towards them. While Deadman and Xanadu have both found elements of love in this world, none of the Justice League Dark members are able to fight against a tree that actively grabs both of them and pulls them into its trunk, saving them from the monstrous wave, as the rest of the world crashes down around them.
Finally, Zatanna is greeted by the World Tree, who explains that there is an underlying threat to time itself, and while the World Tree is not aware of the source, it believes Zatanna and the Justice League Dark may be able to find it and beat it back. The World Tree reunites the Justice League Dark from across the fractured dimensions of spacetime before bringing forth the House of Mysteries. And so, the Justice League Dark’s journey is set to end where it began.
The preceding issues of Justice League Dark had, for better or worse, focused on individual tales that seemed only tangentially connected. But J. M. DeMatteis’ script enhances those stories by showing that they were all bound together by the World Tree and the disruption of time. And the use of the split helps to raise the stakes now that all the members are reunited together, as it builds the threat they now face.
While this issue is more plot-focused, there are some interesting moments of character, such as when Zatanna reveals to her teammates the twisted versions of their secret desires. This is a clever scene that takes up less than a page, but speaks volumes of what the members of the Justice League Dark truly think of themselves.
Andres Guinaldo does a great job of bringing the three stories together artistically. There’s a lot of visuals being shuffled together and the fact that they all work as a whole is a testament to Guinaldo’s skill. The images of Nightmare Nurse’s ship floating in a void are especially eerie.
J. M. DeMatteis is bringing together a lot of different elements in Justice League Dark #38, and while this is done successfully, the issue does have some hiccups. In particular, some of the earlier pages feel a bit caption-heavy, driving the momentum on the issue forward a bit forcefully. It might have been better to let some more of the panels exist without the exposition. This problem lies solely at the beginning though as the back-half of the issue has a better balance.
Justice League Dark #38 is another solid issue in the series. With time itself coming apart at the seams, and the team reunited, the stage is set for a thrilling climax. While the issue does have some pacing issues early on, solid writing and artwork make Justice League Dark #38 another entertaining chapter in the saga of these supernatural characters.