When I write one of these little reviews, I take care to pick certain kinds of books. I usually select new books – either #1’s for brand new series or the first issues of long-running series handled by a new creative team. There are two reasons for this. The chief one is that I like to promote the new things that I think are worth reading, so I can read more of them in the future after everyone rushes out to buy what I recommend.
The other reason is that it is much easier for me to write about a new storyline than an old one. Trying to neatly summarize a long-running storyline can often be difficult for me as a critic. And I think its often tedious for you, as readers, to muddle through my trying to explain the past few issues so you have some idea of what is going on in the current book I’m reviewing.
So why am I reviewing Justice League Dark #11?
Sadly, there weren’t a lot of new #1’s this week that weren’t tie-ins to an event or a franchise. And I already reviewed a Star Wars book last week. Thus I’ve decided to embrace the challenge and write about one of my favorite series, tricky as it may be to sum up The Story So Far.
The universe is falling apart and magic is starting to fail, and Justice League Dark – a sub-team of the Justice League devoted to facing magical threats, led by Wonder Woman – is on the case. The Otherkind – celestial horrors from whom the first magicians stole power and used it to bring magic into the universe – have returned to take back what is theirs. The Lords of Order – who codified the rules of magic – have decided that the best way to stop the Otherkind is to kill all the magicians and magical creatures.
Naturally, the JLD aren’t crazy about this plan. As Wonder Woman and Zatanna seek out the Lords of Chaos to win their support for a plan to fight the Otherkind and save magic, the rest of the team fight a running battle through the many magical dimensions of the DC Comics multiverse, trying to find somewhere they can hide from the murderous Lords of Order.
It’s a heck of a plot, mixing HP Lovecraft with Jack Kirby, but what truly sells this series is the characters and the interactions between them. James Tynion IV has a knack for twisting established characters in unexpected ways. Consider how he has take Kirk “Man-Bat” Langstrom – a scientist who went too far in his experiments – and turned him into a magical fanboy, fascinated by the implications of magic’s existence even as he tries to apply his own formulas and ideas to something that, by definition, defies easy codification. Or how Detective Chimp, one of the strangest concepts in DC Comics history, has had his background crossed with that of the Nightmaster and found himself charged with the defense of a magical kingdom that does not want a talking ape as their mystic guardian, even if the enchanted sword that governs their land declared him the rightwise king.
This all makes sense in context, I swear!
The artwork is as amazing as the story. If you’re a fan of Detective Comics, you might have seen Alvaro Martinez Bueno and Raul Fernandez a few years ago, back when James Tyion IV was writing it. They prove as adept at drawing strange creatures and magical explosions as they did the back alleys and petty thugs of Gotham City. This is one of the most gorgeous comics on the stands today.
The only real flaw to this book is the same one that makes reviewing it tricky. Good as it is, it’s all but impossible to understand this issue without having read the first three chapters of the Lords of Order storyline. However, once you’re into the magical world of Justice League Dark, you won’t ever want to leave.
Justice League Dark #11 releases on May 22, 2019!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.