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

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

 

“This world of magic has failed me. I will burn it out and create something new in its place.”

Welcome to October. And welcome to the Wonder Woman/Justice League Dark crossover, an event that requires five issues, with not one, not two, but three separate titles to tell the whole story, before the final issue hits the stand on… wait for it… Halloween.

The Witching Hour is upon us.

And that’s not looking good for Diana, Princess of Themyscira.

Because long ago Diana was branded with the mark of the Hecate, goddess of withcraft and magic, chosen as a vessel for unimaginable power, lying dormant through decades, in preparation for… something.

Something wild, something dark, something destructive, something…

Something a little confusing actually.

Let’s recap. In the last issue of Justice League Dark, Wonder Woman’s magic League, (and most likely the entire world), was almost wiped out from the encroachment of just one of the Otherkind, the Upside Down Man, a being, and a host, from beyond the borders of order that define our reality, come to eat all the world’s magic, over which they stake original claim of ownership, and also, to remind us that the underbelly of magic is not just darkness, but horror, pure horror.

Eeugh. Yeah, that’s bad. Apocalypse-level bad.

Thankfully, for some reason, the power of Hecate locked within Diana surged to life at the very last minute, and not only is it a magical force that was apparently completely unknown to the Upside Down man, it was a force able to match the utterly overwhelming power that he himself wields.

Yay, team.

Except, as we learn in this issue, maybe not so much.

Because if the Otherkind is meant to remind us of the absolute horror to be found in magic, Hecate appears to represent an aspect of magical Darkness that is not simply wild, but violent, vengeful and destructive as well.

One that seems to have an agenda.

Doesn’t help to have Wonder Woman over-riding her best instincts to conceal the full extent of this new threat to her Justice League prime team. Which only really makes sense if you suspect her to be somehow influenced to operate in line with that agenda. So, we’ll go with that. Goodness knows, she’s likely to be susceptible.

Not that Hecate leaves anything to chance. Which itself is fun. Magic is meant to be used for sly and startling effect, and writer James Tynion is clearly having fun with all the potentials at his fingertips.

(And just as an aside, we now have our second Blue Beetle reference of the month! Good to see that the Ted Kord of Earth Prime has just as much trouble with Justice League monitor duty as the Ted Kord of New Earth did.)

But what exactly is going on here? Hecate, the purported goddess of magic, who we’ve never seen before, who has never before figured prominently in a DC universe populated liberally with wonders and magics, now strides onto the scene, awakening the power in those whom she has claimed as her own (sorry Diana), apparently more than mildly dissatisfied with the uselessness of those who have failed to serve her well (despite having really established no connection with them), and showing an alarming lack of regard for those who actually would seek to worship her.

As a figure of fundamental divine feminine power, it’s a pretty bleak and hateful one.

And what’s with wanting to ‘burn out’ the world of magic? What is this destructive/creative work Hecate is undertaking exactly? Really, doesn’t the world of magic have more pressing concerns? Isn’t Hecate the goddess of magic? Or is something else more fundamental at play here? After all the Upside Down man seemed just as confused by her power, as I do right now.

But hey, comic books. It does all make for a pretty terrifying new adversary.

Like we didn’t already have a universe of them already on the way.

Artist Jesus Merino jumps on board this issue, and does a fine job maintaining the tone Alvaro Martinez set for this first installment back in Justice League Dark #3. Certainly, there’s a lot of opportunity for character art, much of it female, and whatever else you want to say about Hecate’s capriciousness, all that weird and witchy effect in her hosts is pretty glorious. Looking good, Witchfire. Sorry for all that heartburn though.

All around, this issue lays important groundwork for whatever twisted roots and pathways lie ahead. And with five more to go, it’s hard to say what the outcome will end up being, or just how much ground we’ll cover.

I have to say though, with all this Dark being piled on, it makes me wonder where the wondrous, true and bright Light of magic comes into play. Maybe one of those other faces of the Goddess will have an answer for us.

Maybe not.

Next Issue… Is in the pages of Wonder Woman #56! Here’s a checklist for the entire run:

  • Wonder Woman & Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour #1
 Available October 3rd.
  • Wonder Woman #56
 Available October 10th.
  • Justice League Dark #4
 Available October 17th.
  • Wonder Woman #57
 Available October 24th.
  • Justice League Dark & Wonder Woman: The Witching Hour #1
 Available October 31st.

 

 

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