The issue opens with the Justice League Dark battling off a typhoon of monsters known as time gremlins, shadowy wraiths that overwhelm their opponents with their phantasm-like forms and abilities. While several members of the team like Swamp Thing, Frankenstein, and Andrew Bennett are able to fend off these beings in the short-term, it is Deadman who makes a bigger impact here, flying through the creatures with his own energy cancelling out theirs. But even this is unable to stop the horde, and it ultimately falls on Zatanna, Xanadu, and Nightmare Nurse to cast a spell freezing time itself to keep the gremlins from destroying them.
However, this was only the start of trouble for the Justice League Dark as their foe reveals herself as Pralaya, who is known as the goddess of the Void (though Pralaya herself dismisses that title as an oversimplification). Pralaya explains that the line between the multiverse and her realm was broken by the spell cast by Zatanna and Constantine in the second Justice League Dark Annual. Pralaya explains that her existence serves a cyclical purpose: giving birth to and re-absorbing the multiverse.
The Justice League Dark first stands to oppose her, but then Pralaya questions their stance. She asks each of them if it makes sense for them to continuously fight against supernatural foe after supernatural foe or if it would make sense for them to surrender to her, to the void, and let it all come to an end. At this questioning, many of the team acknowledge that they have had these thoughts themselves. That is until Deadman pleads with them; he has experienced death once, he has no desire to go through it again. Revitalized, the team prepares to fight Pralaya. But one member has something else to say…
Reuniting the Justice League Dark has brought back a sense of immediacy that was missing in some of the previous issues, and J. M. DeMatteis shows a great ability in balancing all the characters in terms of their impact in the action. The big player this issue, though is Deadman, who acts as the center of willpower for the team. It’s nice to see the character get some focus as recent issues had revolved around Xanadu and Zatanna.
Andres Guinaldo’s is in top form as Justice League Dark #39 gives plenty to work with. From the chaos of the battle with the time gremlins to the supernatural majesty of Pralaya, there are plenty of visuals that Guinaldo brings to life. But there are also the moments of emotion. When Deadman pleads with his teammates not to give in to the words of Pralaya, readers can feel the fight in his body language, and the issue is all the better for it.
The final page of the issue appears to be introducing a Deus Ex Machina device into play, and one can’t help but hope that it’s a bit of a red herring. DeMatteis has done a great job with the characters and making Justice League Dark a story about their successes and failures, and it would be unfortunate for their final battle to be determined by a last-minute plot device.
Other than that singular concern, however, Justice League Dark #39 is a solid issue with appropriately developed stakes and a new energy given by bringing the team back together after spending the last few issues on separate adventures. Pralaya is a formidable foe even for a team as powerful as the Justice League Dark, so it will be nice to see how the series concludes.