I spent last week’s review bitching and moaning about how CONSTANTINE always has to explain everything, as if magic is real and you’ve absolutely got to understand the science of it if you hope to appreciate the story. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #34 by J.M. DeMatteis, Andres Guinaldo and Walden Wong takes a much lighter and more enjoyable approach. When something doesn’t make a lot of sense, it’s frequently brushed away with “It was magic!” and there you have it.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, saying this every month, but it really is something I love about this series.
So the question is whether or not the dramatic territory of JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK is worth fast-forwarding to via supernatural forces, and I think it is.
The sacrifices the characters make, the courage they show in the face of adversity, Boston and his mentor using love and awe to defeat a monster of rage, it’s all real, even if the magic that dominates this series lends everything an unreal texture.
JLD remains the book I look forward to the most every month. Every issue has been consistently funny, exciting, dramatically and thematically potent, and gorgeous just to look at.
The Nanda-Parbat storyline wraps up a little more quickly than I was expecting. That’s not a complaint. By the end of this issue, DeMatteis has covered all of the emotional territory that this storyline needed to go through and then he wraps it up.
That’s what I like about DeMatteis, he gets to the darn point already in a format where writers frequently buy back every interesting dramatic development, where they spend ten issues going over predictable pop-psychology villain backstories, where a single fight scene with no dramatic weight behind it is stretched over several months. The presence of magic in these stories is one way for him to get there, but another is the craft of efficient, focused, character-driven writing.
Early on, Deadman doesn’t even try to figure out why and how he’s been given life, commenting “I bet Zatanna could explain what’s happened to me, she understands magic in a way I never will…”
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot new to say about JLD. Last month, I feel, set a new bar for what to expect from this series and from DeMatteis, and this issue simply levels off, delivering another issue of what is probably the best supernatural-themed comic in DC’s lineup right now.
Everything. The art by Andres Guinaldo and Walden Wong is as beautiful as ever. Particularly stunning is this issue’s sense of scale, with enormous beasts dominating the action. DeMatteis is in peak form. If you want an entry point to this series, you could pick up issues #33 and #34 and instantly fall in love.
This part of the review isn’t easy to fill when it comes to JLD. If I have to pick something, maybe defeating a god of rage with the power of love is a little cheesy, but I cried at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy where they destroyed the badguy by holding hands with each other so whatever.
I like the New 52 SWAMP THING, but if you want to get into the dark, dreamworld side of DC, this is the only book you really need. The best of the current supernatural-themed books, and one of the best superhero team comics I’ve ever read.