Writer: Ram V
Artist: Amancay Nahuelpan
Justice League Dark has fundamentally been a series focused on magic since its beginning. We’ve seen stories tackling the corruption of magic, the abuse of magic, and lately the price of using magic. One subject hasn’t really been touched upon though. What gives magic its power? In this latest issue of Justice League Dark, Ram V seeks to answer this question. Let’s see how that goes.
This issue picks up exactly where the last one ended. Detective Chimp has tracked John Constantine down to a bar where John is suspended upside-down from the ceiling. Given the content of recent issues, you’d be inclined to think this is the handiwork of the Upside-Down Man. You’d be wrong though. I won’t spoil the surprise but a different force is behind John’s entrapment. These early pages set up the question, what gives magic its power? There’s also some foreshadowing of what may happen by the end of this story arc. The rest of the issue is fairly simple. Constantine and Chimp gather the remaining members of the league to join the fight against the Upside-Down Man.
This is a well-written issue. There have been times in this series where the stories have seemed disconnected. The series started with the corrupted Goddess Hecate and her witch’s mark. It introduced the idea of the Upside-Down Man and led into the Circe storyline later on. Other than that there have been some seemingly random storylines in the series. Here, Ram starts showing how they tie together and why they’re important to this final battle. There’s still some action but it takes a back seat in this issue. We get our answer to what gives magic its power and the story focuses on that concept. Granted, that’s not all there is here. By the end of this issue, there are some truly heart-wrenching moments. Ram also plants the seeds for how the league can defeat this Upside-Down Man once and for all. It’s definitely a setup issue but it’s an extremely good one.
The art continues to be gorgeous. Nahuelpan does a great job with not only drawing expressive characters but some amazing action too. The images of the league in battle are stunning. There’s also some wonderful body horror in here too. This has been a staple of the series since it started and Amancay does a terrific job of it. The level of detail throughout the issue is another aspect of the art that I feel the need to compliment. In the last issue, Swamp Thing imprisoned the Upside-Down Man and that continues here. The roots that make up this prison are actually varied in design. Most artists would’ve kept a uniform design for something such as this. It’s a small touch but Amancay makes Swamp Thing’s prison look so much more realistic through this variety. There are other great details too but I’d be giving spoilers if I talked about them too much.
The lettering continues to be astounding. The standard stuff is here. The bold lettering to highlight important words and phrases and it’s well done. Virtually everything I complimented the lettering on in my last couple of reviews comes up here too though. The fantastic use of onomatopoeia adds so much impact to the action, especially when our villain escapes his confinement. There are uniquely coloured narrative boxes for certain characters to let you know who’s talking. Swamp Thing, Doctor Fate, and the Upside-Down Man all get unique speech bubbles that help highlight their words. The lettering in past issues was amazing and it’s the same here.
Overall, this was a phenomenal issue of Justice League Dark. I think we needed a slower issue like this after the last two being so action-packed. This is feeling more and more like it will be the final arc for this series and I’ll be sad to see it go. People praise Marvel’s Immortal Hulk for its use of horror and the supernatural and rightly so. This is the DC equivalent of that book and I think anyone not reading Justice League Dark is missing out.
Justice League Dark #26
This is a great new issue of Justice League Dark. The story itself is fantastic as it continues to build the concept of magic as well as the threat of the Upside-Down Man. It has some nice character moments but I wouldn't say it's the focus of the issue. That's probably the one weak point here. The art is absolutely breath-taking and the lettering is not only brilliant but incredibly varied. An extremely strong issue. Hopefully, the series continues to be this strong as it comes closer to its end.