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Justice League Dark #3 Review

4 min read
The darkness really hits its stride.

The darkness really hits its stride.

Creative Staff:
Story: James Tynion IV
Art: Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh

What They Say:
Wonder Woman! Swamp Thing! Zatanna! Man-Bat! Um…Detective Chimp! The JL Dark team may not be strong or deep enough to stop the omnipotent Upside-Down Man from taking over our entire plane of existence. UDM takes the JLD apart one by one, but Wonder Woman might have enough mojo to keep everyone alive. Turns out Diana had a power not even she knew about that bursts to the surface, but will it be enough to turn the Upside-Down Man on his head, or is it just a lot of mystical mumbo jumbo?

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The opening arc for Justice League Dark has been intriguing in its first couple of issues but that’s been more because of the general concept and the cast assembled. I like having Diana leading this group together and trying to put them all into the right place to understand their roles. Tynion has captured their voices well so far while Martinez and Fernandez make this a very worthwhile monthly book because of how much they put into each page and panel. I love the look of it and Anderson’s color work gives it such life and vibrancy that it’s a delight to go from panel to panel. Even as dark as it gets in this installment it never feels like it’s done to obscure the art itself.

After having things go as badly as they did in conversing with Doctor Date in the Tower in the previous issue, this one opens with a welcome little bit of flashback to Zatanna’s early days training under her father. With her having such strong access to magic, his nod toward how they play sleight of hand with deceit in order to use their powers is a big piece of the puzzle for her. The parent/child relationship is reinforced well here and that’s critical because as the living embodiment of some magic forms as the Upside-Down Man here in the Tower, it comes back to haunt Zatanna. The being, intent on having some vengeance for what mankind had done millennia before in stealing magic, makes note with her that they’re continually torturing her father, which sets her off easily enough. It’s a good moment to see the button pushed and exactly how it works with her.

Everyone else, however, is struggling against this being. It’s disturbing watching as Bobo gets twisted to goo but it’s a delight to see Constantine step up to face him using a spell he learned recently that should take down a god. It’s a brutal piece that doesn’t do the job but it gets you so close in a sense that you really do thrill to it, especially since it involves John taking all of this very seriously. But the real piece that intrigues here is when the Upside-Down Man reaches for Diana, sensing something it doesn’t know within her, and she explodes with an incredible amount of magic herself. It’s a big moment that unfolds wonderfully as it’s that rare time you see Diana off-guard and even Zatanna unsure of what’s going on. But they know how to take advantage of it, which for now is just delaying the inevitable fight.

In Summary:
I’ve enjoyed what Justice League Dark has presented so far but this third issue feels like it’s starting to cement more of what it wants to do. Having liked Tynion’s other dips into the supernatural with Constantine before I know he can bring this to where it needs to be without a problem, it’s just a matter of whether the run of it flows with the right pace as everything these days is feeling too decompressed for my tastes. This series is taking the right pace in building things out and I’m hoping it can barrel forward more now while still delivering some really good character interaction material that really makes a book as special as it can be. This is a great team assembled here and they’ve produced a very enjoyable book.

Grade: B+

Age Rating: 15+
Released By: DC Comics via DC Universe
Release Date: September 26th, 2018
MSRP: $3.99

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