Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #11
[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
Reviewed By: Ari Bard
The magic users of the universe have 5 minutes to respond to the Lords of Order’s ultimatum: Give up their memories of magic forever or perish. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman and Zatanna’s search for Mordru continues, and he may be hiding in plain sight.
James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martínez Bueno, Raul Fernandez, Brad Anderson, and Rob Leigh are weaving a magical web of epic proportions. The list of magical corners of the DC Universe involved with this event is so large that it feels cinematic. This feeling is further enhanced by the picturesque, horizontal paneling that opens the issue. It’s a true movie moment as our heroes gather around to discuss an ultimatum given by beings more powerful than we could ever imagine. This issue adds another magical corner of the universe to the fold with Kor and the Homo Magi. Who knows, we might even see Dr. Mist himself before this conflict comes to an end. This is another world and character of epic proportions that joins an already monumental story with connections across time and space.
Once again indecision proves to be a magician’s greatest enemy as debate over the ultimatum removes any choice from the people of Myrra who whither away after the destruction of their world. The holes in their bodies as they disintegrate into dust is uncanny beyond all measure a puts the horrors of the Lords of Order, beings once thought to be good, on full display. You can can feel the magic’s corrosive and corrupting power come forth from the pages as the people of Myrra are sent to a wide-scale panic. What does it take to break a hero? When does the fight stop? Does it ever end? Is there any hope? It’s easy for questions like these to appear in your mind as all hope seems lost to the Lords of Order. Even Blue Devil falls victim to the golden display of power. The magical community and all their might seems helpless to take action, and ultimately, it is the one without magic who makes the decision. Jason Blood, no longer immortal after he was split with Etrigan and the person whose magical abilities were born from a curse, makes the final decision to live without consulting the rest of the magical community. Jason Blood, one of the beings who’s lived the longest, chooses to forget magic and live rather than stay and fight. It’s a mind-boggling decision that is going evoke a, “wait what?” response from readers everywhere. It’s the perfect tease to keep readers hooked for the next issue as they have to wait to find out the consequences of what Jason blood said.
The creative team’s ability to tease readers is one of the strongest attributes of this series. Mordru’s debut in Justice League Dark #11 is also filled with power we can’t even begin to imagine. He teleports Zatanna and Wonder Woman before our very eyes and forces them to sit. He can manipulate reality on a whims and all we see are wisps of purple smoke with color and texture almost real enough to reach out and touch it. Mordru’s revealing of the Ruby of Life is equally cinematic and it becomes clear that he maybe be able to do more than hold his own against all four Lords of Order. This man is chaos incarnate and, while he does relish in having that descriptor, it also holds a responsibility. Many magic users refuse to act out of indecisiveness or fear. Even the Lords of Order once asked before taking action, but Mordru has and will never ask for permission. He takes, and he’s so powerful that he removed Zatanna’s mouth and nose from her face with a single thought.
Justice League Dark #11 gives you enough information to convince you of power, but still leaves a lot of mystery behind the character. This is true about Mordru, the Lords of Order, and even the Phantom Stranger. We’re rarely given information about the histories, motivations, or capabilities of some of the most powerful magic users in the universe. Mordru isn’t only powerful beyond belief, powerful enough to split a comic panel into and walk through it, but he also doesn’t care. He’s incredibly apathetic to a potentially universe ending threat because he’s never come across a being that’s threatened his survival.
It’s the mystery and teasing behind the power that makes us feel as though we are amateur magic users in this world and way over our heads. We’re given just enough to feel involved and have a stake, but there is so much out there beyond our ability to understand. Just like many magic users in the DC universe, we need to know more about each flash of light or glimpse of power we see. Each discovery behind each of these magical figures takes your breath away, and it’s delightfully infuriating how little we know about characters like Mordru. We want to know more and see more about what his powers are like, but he refuses to get involved. He clearly knows more about the multiverse than almost anyone else in it, but his own agenda come far beyond the likes of a mere reader. Even the ways it’s draw with ambiguous purple lighting and clouds of gas draws the reader in while only showing glimpses of what magic can really do.
As the Ruby of Life transforms our heroes into Lords of Chaos, we get a glimpse of some of the most powerful magic yet. These designs are epic appearing like wild skins from a video game that leap onto the page. They inspire both awe and fear at the same time as you can’t help but marvel at the instantaneous transformation that occurred before your very eyes. The question is, was the decision to embrace chaos truly the right one?
Wonder Woman’s portrayal in this issue appears to be uncharacteristically dark. Her core being is often fueled by love. Wonder Woman never resorts to violence when she can dispel conflict through the powers of love and understanding. As a result, it seems unreasonable for her to feel such a raw an visceral hatred for Mordru, a being she barely knows, as he insinuates. He may have done unspeakable things, but Wonder Woman has rarely, if ever, been do quick to remove the possibilities of forgiveness and redemption. Then after Mordru leaves, she embraces the darkness almost without a second thought. It’s uncharacteristically rash of her and a bit hard to believe as Zatanna remains the hesitant one. Perhaps her behavior is a result of the events that took place in The Witching Hour, but it would be nice if further explanation were provided.
Justice League #11 is a brilliant chapter in an arc wrought with destruction at the hands of the Lords of Order. This creative team does an astounding job of always providing enough magic to amaze while always keeping us wanting more.