Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #13
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Mark Buckingham, Daniel Sampere
Inks: Mick Gray, Juan Albarran
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed By: Ari Bard
In Justice League Dark #13, our heroes have to recuperate from the magical meltdown that just occurred. In a final showdown against the Lords of Order, the Justice League Dark embodied the powers of chaos, defeated them, and as a byproduct broke magic. It turns out there’s some consequences to that, so Wonder Woman and Zatanna are handling that.
This issue is very much a bridge between the biggest magical cataclysm we’ve ever witnessed and whatever major event comes next. There has to be a recovery period and this was a great way to fill it. We get a great retelling of Dr. Fate’s origin from Kent Nelson’s perspective, a serious talk between Zatanna and John Constantine, and Circe’s offer from Lex. All of these threads will tie in somewhere down the line, but it’s nice to revel in a quick moment of relative calm. It feels like the creative team has been firing on all cylinders since The Witching Hour, and so it’s about time for some relief.
The story is laid out in three beautiful short chapters with the first being about Kent Nelson after being released from the clutches of Dr. Fate. The story and art style comes straight out of More Fun Comics #67 thrust into the modern era with all of the cheesy dialogue and classic adventure that you’d hope for. Mark Buckingham and Mick Gray bring a style and experience we haven’t seen in a long time, and it’s a welcome one. There’s something about the credits font, the faces, and some of the language choices that combines a classic style with a truly terrifying origin. The font and caption boxes used were the same ones used for narration in the earlier issues, but this scene doesn’t quite carry the same tone. There’s a strange nature that just isn’t captured as well by the caption boxes, but really shines when we see the laser eyes shooting out from the statue. You can practically see the old school laser effects from the Super Friends cartoon as they shoot out of Nabu’s eyes. Nevertheless, it’s a rather emotional scene followed by a beautiful tapestry across time as Kent is trained in the ways of sorcery and magic. The art team does an equally phenomenal job when depicting the Justice League Dark in the present day, brilliant laying out the panels around Nabu’s helmet and creating these gorgeous images that span across multiple panels. A brilliant choice to bring this art team aboard for this story.
The second story is a rather serious conversation about trust between Zatanna and Constantine. The we’ve seen Sampere and Albarran’s beautiful work in book before, but Justice League Dark #13 is on another level. It’s make brilliant use of six and nine panel grids and even changes styles to reflect a scene very reminiscent of the original Vertigo Hellblazer comics. Tynion’s conversations and origins are told well, but this issue really absorbs you into its art and they got some really great talent to do that. The second story is primarily about trust, and understandably so. Zatanna found out that Constatine new about her father and the situation with the Otherkind long before anyone else and never told her. How can she ever trust him again? It’s nice that John Constantine occasionally gets called out on what a scumbag he is, and Tynion uses this issue as a great opportunity. The offer from Lex is worked into the overall narrative well and seems promising for the future, and don’t think we didn’t notice that New 52 font!
Apart from a few strange caption choices, this issue has a lot to enjoy at a much more relaxed pace with art from tremendous talent.
Justice League Dark #13 is a satisfying bridge and wrap-up from a fantastic arc while laying the groundwork for what is to come.