Continuing out of Justice League Dark Annual #2, writer J. M. DeMatteis continues to weave the story of the now separated Justice League Dark. Issue #36 picks up on the group featuring Swamp Thing, Frankenstein, Nightmare Nurse, and Andrew Bennett as they try to get their bearings.
The find that they are floating through a void on a large hunk or rock. Tension begins as Swamp Thing finds himself fully detached from the Green and begins to wither away. While Nightmare Nurse is able to stall this, things aren’t looking good for the Avatar of the Green. Things only escalate when the group finds themselves under attack by a swarm of small insect men, before eventually being assaulted by their master, Felix Faust.
A fantastic battle between the Justice League Dark and Faust ensues, before the group discovers that things are not all they seem. Faust explains the horrific fate that both he and Earth shared, the latter having faded into dust, while he lived on, made immortal through supernatural means. While Felix Faust seems remorseful, absorbing his little Faustlings and even healing Swamp Thing, everything is not as it seems and the Justice League Dark finds themselves in another conflict, this time with Faust on their side.
J. M. DeMatteis does a solid job of balancing the team in a tightly paced narrative. Nightmare Nurse takes the reigns as the point-of-view character, while Swamp Thing takes a back seat due to his inability to attach to the green. Asa makes for a nice lead, and her past interactions with Faust help layer the story here. Bennett and Frankenstein both operate primarily as combatants, but due to the fun of the battle, they don’t feel like they were shoehorned in. The real fun here though is Faust, and this is where artist Andres Guinaldo takes over the book.
Faust’s appearance here is monstrous, a cross between the creatures in John Carpenter’s The Thing and the better aspects of Dr. Smith in 1998’s Lost in Space. Guinaldo’s pencils are fantastic, and convey a kinetic energy that brings the action to the next level. DeMatteis is willing to let Guinaldo take the reigns for much of the issue, and it pays off.
Towards the second half of the issue, some of the pacing gets thrown off. A final threat emerges from seemingly nowhere to provide another combat scene for the climax, and the page of Zatanna feels very out of place. While it serves as a nice reminder that other members of the Justice League Dark are also adrift, it breaks up some of the tone of the book and doesn’t really serve much purpose in its own.
Justice League Dark #36 is a solid issue with lots of great action and fun character work, especially from the villainous Felix Faust. Andres Guinaldo brings a welcome energy to the book’s proceedings. Justice League Dark has always been a fun book, combining the supernatural with monstrous action, and the newest chapter is no exception.