Review: Justice League Dark #1

by Ari Bard
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[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer: James Tynion IV

Pencils: Alvaro Martínez Bueno

Inks: Raul Fernandez

Colors: Brad Anderson

Letters: Rob Leigh



You’ve seen a team of heroes tackle the world of occult and magic before, but with Wonder Woman on board?  You haven’t seen them like this.  Join Wonder Woman as she tries to recruit mystics like Zatanna, Detective Chimp, Swamp Thing, and… Man-Bat? Don’t be fooled by the strange roster, however, as this series is one that will surely scare as it journeys into the dark depths of the DCU.


The art here is truly some of the best I have seen in awhile.  It does it’s job perfectly and makes the story come to life in the scariest and most magical ways.  The paneling choices are excellent and really something to take notice of.  Some, for example, are slightly ajar to convey a sense of uneasiness.  Other times, like in the beautifully drawn meeting between Wonder Woman and Zatanna near the beginning, characters are literally running or jumping out of the panels.  There are so many different atmospheres that exist in the comics and they are all drawn so differently and so beautifully.  Zatanna’s magic show with vibrant colors, the dark, creepy meeting with Zatanna and Constantine, the lonely, relaxed atmosphere of the oblivion bar, and the attacks by the Otherkind at the end are all done so differently, and each achieve a different effect.

The story is also very well written.  Tynion has been a consistently decent writer for me these past few years, but this issue is a whole different level.  I am able to hear each character’s voice in my head as I read, and nothing feels out of place.  Just because the overall tone of this book is horror doesn’t mean Tynion can’t sneak a few funny lines into Detective Chimp’s dialogue.  It also feels like a Justice League book with its grand scope.  This isn’t just any team of five here.  There are appearances from some of the most powerful players in the magic side of the DC Universe in this issue alone, and I can’t wait to see who they bring in next.

Finally, I am not sure I could say that I have ever been scared from a comic book.  It’s not an easy emotion to achieve in this medium.  Tynion managed to do it pretty well.  The Upside Down Man and the Otherkind are truly terrifying but only in a way that makes me want more.


I only have two really small negatives in what is otherwise an amazing issue.  First is that the issue is a little narration heavy towards the beginning, but the first issue of a series often is in my experience.  The other issue is that Man-bat’s design is a little off to me.  He harmless, friendly look is fun for calm situations, but he doesn’t look as primal as he should when its time for a fight.



I have never been more excited to review a series, and reading this first issue only builds my anticipation.  I hope Tynion makes sure that Justice League Dark stays this well-written for a long time.


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