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‘Justice League Dark #9’ (review)

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

 

“What was that?”

“The beginning of the end. There’s not much time. This is all going according to your father’s plan.”

 

Really? That’s some plan. Almost like he’s been reading it from the very end of the story.

It’s clear by now that whatever machinations can be ascribed to whom, what is underway in the pages of Justice League Dark is a wholesale restructuring of the magical universe of the DCU.

The Otherkind are using the Tree of Wonder as a conduit to reclaim their power from the realms of Earth – in particularly messy and ugly ways.

The Lords of Order are using the Otherkind to terrorize and destabilize the entire magical community, in preparation for their own darkly-conceived and violent endgame.

And Circe, devious Circe, has been using all of that to claim the remaining vestiges of Hecate’s Goddess of Magic powers all for herself.

What’s less clear is exactly how Zatanna’s father, the Golden Age magician Zatarra, could have orchestrated this entire mess in the first place, or why he would do so, if it meant living out an endless horror of torture at the hands of the Otherkind, throughout the years it would take to bring this entire saga about. I mean, yeesh.

No answers this month. Not those anyway. All we know is that Zatarra’s master plan requires his daughter, the magical heroes of the Justice League… aaand Mordru, DC’s Dark Lord of Chaos, who is proving surprisingly difficult to find, even as the Lords of Order have begun their gambit to… “instill a greater binding order” across the magical DCU.

Whatever that means.

Unfortunately, for all that it’s cool (very cool) to showcase a full gathering of the Lords of Order – each in newly acquired host bodies specially chosen for the havoc they’re all about to wreak –we still do not quite know why they’re doing this.

Which is frustrating, because the opening pages of the issue go to great lengths to assure us that we’re about to learn everything we need to know.

James Tynion is a master of interlocking pieces. There’s no denying it takes serious storytelling chops to keep all these balls in the air, and drive the narrative forward in satisfying ways. But he does this. Too often, he allows his verbiage to get ahead of what he actually has any intention of revealing, and the effect is that we end up feeling led around by the nose.

Which is annoying and, it seems to me, unnecessary.

If you say you’re going to do a thing, do it. If you have no intention of doing it, don’t say you will. Not hard.

What we do get, to be fair – all I might add, with the once again, immensely satisfying artistry of Alvaro Martinez Bueno, along with the assist of fellow penciller Miguel Mendonca, (good job guys) – is at least some of the backstory linking the Dark Metal saga and the arrival of the Tree of Wonder to whatever darkness takes shape in our favorite Lord of Order, the ancient wizard Nabu. A darkness that convinces him to him take full possession of Kent Nelson (complete with melting helmet – could it be that Kent is fighting back?), lock young Khalid in a Grecian vase, and then set about to destroy the established order of the DC magical universe from top to bottom. With the rather horrifying assistance of the Otherkind.

Pretty dark there Nabu. Just scratching a brain itch, or is something else afoot?

It’s a fair question, because whatever has gotten all five Lords of Order so worked up, they all seem to have gone full-scale psychotic together. Just to demonstrate they mean business, we’re treated to the dramatic if somewhat gratuitous end of one of the most colorful heroes of DC magical cannon. I mean it’s not as bad as the hole that seems to get blown through Etrigan on this month’s cover. But still. The Lords of Order just ain’t messing around here. Their ultimate goal seems to be a wholesale gutting and renovation of the sphere of the gods, but it seems the firepower they need to do this is going to mean nothing good for Myrra.

It certainly seems as if the Lords of Order have orchestrated things so that the majority of remaining DC magical power has been concentrated in that magical land, a land they are currently in the process of devouring. Given everything that’s brought us to this point you’d imagine that the Lords of Order have pulled off quite the feat of higher-level chess to reach their final objectives.

Except we know that other players are on the board, some of whom presumably helped to set it up in the first place, and some of whom will probably be just as happy to tip it all over…

Next Issue: Up is Down, Order is Darkness, Chaos is… ?

 

 

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