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‘Justice League Dark and Wonder Woman: The Witching Hour #1’ (review)

Written by James T Tynion IV
Illustrated by Jesús Merino
Published by DC Comics

 

“In the beginning… there was magic.”

The Witching Hour comes to its conclusion this week, in the pages of Justice League Dark and Wonder Woman #1, the final book of James Tynion’s 5-part ‘pentology’, with a story that manages to rework several old, unexplored mythological frameworks rather deftly into the new canon of the DCU.

That’s no mean feat, given the scope of the effort, and the pre-existing canon he’s had to honor along the way. And you really have to give him credit for carrying it off, even if the task of folding that all together into a relative handful of pages, feels inevitably clunky at times in its proportions.

But make no mistake, carry it off he does. Not only are we left with a brand-new understanding of the source of magic throughout the DC multiverse, but already whole great swaths and foundations of that magical power have now been transformed, with the promise of more to come.

In the process, Wonder Woman herself has been decisively elevated to the very center of that reworking, in a role that points to tremendous untapped potential for storytelling, and a worthy evolution for the character, into new iconic directions.

Along with a new (also-old) adversary that promises to play a pivotal role in the unwritten mythological revisioning yet to come.

What we get in this issue, is a tale that properly places the goddess Hecate as a fundamental embodiment of the multiverse, stepping her power down through a history of Divine Feminine aspects that leads directly (or, perhaps indirectly) to our very own Amazonian Princess.

That story also provides greater insight into the formation of the Dark Multiverse, as the sort of poorly formed, bastardized, mirror reality typically associated with the genesis of Mother Sophia. Here in the DCU that means that Hecate and the Otherkind share a history of origin, opposing the Upside Down Man with the Goddess of Magic in a way that clears up several of the tensions this series has presented to us so far.

As well as a few suggestions for resolving them.

How that all goes down is equal parts satisfying and not-satisfying. The only issue being a matter of scale. Comics run afoul of this all the time, but Tynion, in the sweep of vision that Scott Snyder and the greater DC bullpen have set down to initiate our favorite heroes into here-to-for unrealized dimensions of potential, has gone whole hog with a story that links Diana to the full fount of original magical power of the multiverse entire.

Which is a lot of power.

Not only does that create some… challenges in accepting how that power is managed and assimilated throughout the arc of this storyline, but the final resolution, as a consequence, feels almost anti-climactic in its conclusion. To say nothing of taking a pass (for now) on the realization of Diana’s full potential.

I count this all as a small price to pay however, because it’s clear enough by now that the ending of the Witching Hour is meant more as prelude, than conclusion. It’s one of the things Tynion carries off well, setting up springboards for the further serial storytelling of comics.

So, does Diana and her ragtag magical crew save the day from the corrupted, vast, destructive universal threat of the Dark Goddess? Sure. But not only does it leave the door open for an even darker iteration of Hecate down the line, but still we are left now with the ongoing threats of the Upside-Down Man, the Otherkind, the renegade problem of a Nabu-controlled Doctor Fate, and the likely intervention of a complete host of the DCU’s magical power elite…

As well as one particular, newly empowered adversary, one fueled with rage and spite and a terrible disdain for all the worlds of man. One who it seems, far better than any of our heroes, has understood all along, the true promise of the Witching Hour at hand.

A final, quick shout out the Jesus Merino, for finalizing the bookend of this project, and to compatriots Fernando Blanco and Miguel Mendonca for making his work look even better that the first issue. Excellent work guys.

Happy Halloween everyone! Blessed Samhain.

Coming Up Next: It’s time for a roll of the dice…

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