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‘Justice League Dark Annual #1’ review)

Written by James Tynion IV, V. Ram
Art by Guillem March
Published by DC Comics

 

“…What do flowers know of the predicament of trees?”

This month’s well-timed Annual features an important story with Swamp Thing, and takes a look at the changing status of the Green.

That’s necessary because the consequences of our latest DC Magical story arc have seen the Parliament of Trees destroyed, and the Parliament of Flowers arise to take its place. Swamp Thing is no longer the chosen protector of the Green. And that means a new host must be selected for the role.

And Swamp Thing, formerly Alec Holland, knows just how painful and difficult that will be for someone.

So, he goes looking for the one who will soon be chosen, to help.

Because this is an annual, authors James Tynion and Ram V have a little more room to stretch his legs, and they take advantage, with a story that is both macabre and unsettling and quite tragic in the end.

They are assisted with the sweeping illustrated style of artist Guillem March, whose penchant for big, intimate personal shots, help with the emotional side of the storytelling quite well, and make a decent stab at the new wonderments now arising from the Green. A wonderment of many flowers.

Magic has been broken, and rewoven back together, and across the breadth of the magical world all the old rules are being rewritten, with new magics, and new players rising to make them.

Zatanna and the crew are hard at work to handle the Books of Magic. But things aren’t so easy with the Green.

Shifting its own foundation and mode from the generationally long-term perspective of trees, to the comparatively ephemeral nature of flowers, is a big shift for the Green. It comes with complications, and consequences that remain still to be seen in full. But the shift itself is quite in step with the ecological realities in the world today, and it’s well-done for this reason alone.

What that will mean for the Justice League Dark and the DCU in general going forward, will continue to become clear. What it means for the new Guardian of the Green, is the story of this book, and it is built to mirror the classically tragic lines of Alec Holland’s own transformation once upon a time – with a few twists that make a big difference this time around.

For one thing, Swamp Thing is on hand to try and clarify what has actually happened to the man who suddenly finds his form constantly being reconstituted with blooms of flowers. In the process, we learn more about the exact plight of identity Swamp Thing finds himself in now.

It’s quite clear that Swamp Thing relinquished the man he was to become the Guardian of the Green. But it raises an interesting question: If Swamp Thing is no longer given purpose and meaning in the Green, might it be possible for him to now reclaim the man that Alec Holland once was?

Whatever may be the case, it certainly is interesting that John Constantine of all people is on hand to help the great vegetative entity recall his past humanity. It certainly seems as if Constantine has found himself at the right place at the right time, once again…

That’s not the only twist however, and the second turn changes the game in a way that dovetails beautifully into the story arc that Tynion is about to kick-off in the regular issues of this series.

I won’t spoil that ending, but I will say that the closing page features a version of Circe we have not seen before, and it’s an excellent one indeed. It seems Lex Luthor’s heart-to-heart with her last issue has inspired her to step up her own transformation through the power of Hecate’s Witch mark which she now owns…

And perhaps has inspired her to up her own game beyond the mischief she already has planned. A game she will need a team to play…

Next Issue: Players take the field.

 

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