Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Javier Fernandez
I absolutely adore this series. I love a good story about magic in comic books and to date, this is one of the best ones I’ve read. I’m actually dreading the day James Tynion stops writing Justice league dark. It’s the best comic of this year in my opinion. Now that my monthly praise for this series is out of the way lets get onto the review of this issue.
In short, this issue’s a mixed bag. We’ve reached the point in the Witching war storyline where things have had to slow down. That’s not necessarily a bad thing of course but it may be off-putting to some readers. I get the impression that Tynion wanted to avoid burning out the readers with too much action. It makes sense but there’s just not a lot going on in this issue. The first half of the book effectively serves as a Circe origin. It’s brief and there are some striking images thanks to the artwork of Javier Fernandez. Despite that though it’s mostly retreading old ground. If you’re a new reader then this might help with making the book more accessible but if you’re new then you’d be better off by not starting the series in the middle of a storyline.
After this segment, we move onto the meat of the book which is a continuation of Circe and company’s assault on the justice league dark. It’s ok. There’s a lot of showdowns that are teased but not really delivered on. I’m hoping they’re being saved for the next issue or two though. The real highlight of this issue though is its showcase of Zatanna. Wonder woman is the main character/leader of the Justice league dark and one of the flaws some may see in the series is how key Diana usually is to the story. I can’t think of many issues where she’s relegated to the background but this is one.
Thanks to this Zatanna becomes the protagonist of this issue and she absolutely rocks. I won’t go into details but I’ve followed Zatanna since her appearances in the 90’s Batman cartoon and this issue has one of the most badass moments I’ve ever seen with the character. She genuinely comes across as a tough and competent leader. It’s incredible to read and I hope Tynion continues to show this side of her.
The art on this issue is another high point. It feels somewhat out of place being the only issue of this storyline Alvaro Martinez hasn’t done art for but it is very good. Fernandez draws the characters in a less detailed manner but he keeps the realism. There’s also a very dark feel to some of his art, particularly in the Circe origin segment. Based on solicitations Martinez will be back on the book next issue but I’d enjoy seeing Fernandez’s work again in the future.
Overall this is a decent issue but it’s clearly been designed to give the audience a break before the main event. I can’t criticise that and I think it’s a wise decision. Some will be put off by that though. The writing of the characters is solid although Circe and Zatanna are the only ones who really get a spotlight here. The artwork is good too, even if it’s different from normal for this series. I’d recommend picking this book up, especially if you want a good and succinct Circe origin. Just don’t expect the same level of a blockbuster as the last issue.
Justice League Dark #17
This issue has definitely been designed to serve as an intermission before the climax of the witching war storyline but it has good art, good writing and I have no complaints after reading it. It's a solid issue.