Justice League Dark #1
By James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martínez Bueno, Raul Fernandez, Brad Anderson, Rob Leigh
Justice League Dark #1 is the magic-focused team book spinning out of DC’c May 2018 event, No Justice. Despite that, just about anyone could grab this book and enjoy it. DC is offering lots of new team books, and this series proves to be its own flavor with familiar selling points. JL: Dark follows Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman, Man-Bat, Zatanna, and Detective Chimp with cameos from a few other characters, so expect some jumping around. Wonder Woman is putting together a team of magic users with whoever she can convince to follow her, and her ragtag team is a total blast. The best part of any superhero team comic is seeing a bunch of heroes play together, and that’s exactly what this issue has to offer.
Letters by Rob Leigh keep the conversation and the scene-setting in balance with each other throughout the issue. Dialogue flows through each panel, in and out of the environment, and through the entire page so there’s a consistent momentum. Most of this issue revolves around Wonder Woman talking to recruits in strange places, so Leigh’s job is important.
Alvaro Martínez Bueno draws the hell out of these characters. A chimp staring at his reflection in a sword has never been more emotional. Making a pile of vines, an anthropomorphic bat, and a primate look human can’t be easy, but Martínez Bueno accomplishes it in JL Dark #1. That capability carries over when he draws some of the occult bits of the issue as well. His designs are satisfyingly gross and grim. Martínez Bueno’s sense of direction compliments that all extremely well . JL Dark #1 feels dynamic throughout thanks to shifting panel designs and camera angles.
Raul Fernandez on inks accentuates the pencils well. His shadows, along with Brad Anderson’s colors, provide a lot of the depth and texture that give the issue an ominous energy. Thanks to their combined efforts, there’s hardly ever a scene that feels like the heroes are totally safe. They set the tone so that any moment might be the one where an occult creature steps out of the shadows.
James Tynion IV writes Diana like he knows every inch of her, and that flows into every character. Even though some characters don’t appear as much as others, Tynion’s dialogue makes each of their moments rewarding. In the opening scene, Zatanna and Wonder Woman set the tone for the series as they banter back and forth and battle a monster together. Their conversation organically calls back to their last encounter back in No Justice and pushes the plot onward as Diana tries to recruit her. In other cases, this would be a sort of rinse and repeat until all of the team members join in, but not here. Tynion writes the story with the characters’ motives first and the plot second. That means we get natural progression as well as moments for Detective Chimp to complain about the magical bartender turning his beer into apple juice.
DC’s most recent team-book is an easy recommendation for readers who miss these characters, or just want to get to know them. There’s no barrier to stop readers from totally understanding what’s going on, and the creative team is working together to ensure that everyone from Zatanna to Man-Bat has a cemented personality by the final page of Justice League Dark #1. Check out our preview here.