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‘Justice League Dark #4’ (review)

Written by James T Tynion IV 
Illustrated by Alvaro Martinez, and
Raúl Fernández
Published by DC Comics

“Zatanna… I hope to hell you know what you’re doing.

“Yeah. Me too.”

“Just to be clear, I’m saying that because it’s damn clear you have no freaking idea.”


It seems that the primary intent of this issue, third in writer James Tynion IV’s The Witching Hour saga, is to impress upon us, first, the absolutely staggering amount of power at Hecate’s command; second, how much by extension, Wonder Woman (and poor Dawn Manitou) also wields as one of the five living vessels for the Goddess’ soul; and, ultimately, how utterly powerless Diana is before that power, even as she (somehow) manages to use it against Hecate herself for a time.

Sorry if that’s a spoiler. But it really shouldn’t be.

The whole prospect of Diana channeling the power of her witch-mark against the Goddess of Magic herself, sounded pretty weak at the outset when it was suggested last issue. Mostly the idea seemed to indicate just how desperate the situation really was, that Diana probably hasn’t thinking terribly clearly in general, and – ok yeah, it looked pretty cool when she lit herself up like that.

The high aesthetic of which carried straight over into this issue with Alvaro Martinez Bueno’s excellent penciling. Even as much of that talent was bent to depicting the absolute destruction of the high, secret, mystical city of Nanda Parbat.

Nanda Parbat, we are told, is one of the earth’s ‘hearts of magic’, a nexus for the mysteries between life and death overseen by the Goddess Rama Kushna. And again, if that suggests to you a likely progression of events into… other hearts of magic on the planet, you would not be wrong to be alarmed.

In fact, mostly this is all playing out so far pretty much as you’d expect once you get your head wrapped around the idea that a primal Goddess of earth’s magical power wants to wipe everything away and start over from scratch.

Which is to say, not well.

But at least the project’s creative team has given themselves a number of issues to tell the story and play it out in grand cinematic style. The ending of this issue does not look good, and the beginning of the next one isn’t looking much better, but that leaves us a full issue and a half left for our team to figure out how to beat back the flood of destruction Hecate has unleashed upon the unsuspecting magical world. And they’ll need it too, because there’s little chance that things won’t get worse before they get better.

I’m guessing the answer to their crisis is either something unexpectedly potent, or something pretty sly, because, again, Tynion is making it as clear as possible that we are dealing with the most extreme levels of power and magic that he can summon to these pages.

Either way, I hope the price for that victory doesn’t turn out to be too high. Zatanna keeps harping on the price of power. So far however, she hasn’t shown much of a willingness to risk much of either herself. Understandable I suppose, given that both of the sources for her magic are turning out to be hateful destructive horrors.

Disillusioning for sure. But maybe there’s something to that. Perhaps a bit of strategic misdirection is in order.

Next Issue: Parliament of Ash


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