Justice League Dark is a series that is mostly horror, but also very supernatural. It’s a specialized form of the Justice League that tackles things that go bump in the night. So far the series has been twisted, but this week we get our first look at the much-hyped Upside Down Man. ::Shiver::
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
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?
Why does this matter?
This issue not only introduces a new magic-based villain but also reveals something very big about Wonder Woman. If you like this character you must read this issue to get a handle on what Tynion, and DC Comics, are doing with this character.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with Zatanna as a young girl effectively setting up the fact that she’s basically been trained from a young age to be superior at using magic. These scenes not only build up the character and give her more importance in the grand scheme of things but help give her actions in the issue validity. She does something later on that would not have been as impactful if not for the build up.
Most of this issue hangs on the Justice League Dark meeting the Upside Down Man and learning how powerful the thing can be with his magic. Tynion and Alvaro Martinez Bueno give each team member a chance to take a crack at the bad guy each of which builds up the stakes ever higher. One the one hand this is an issue that reminds us a team is only as strong as how well they work together, but it also helps show how powerful the Upside Down Man is. By the end, Tynion has made a strong statement with the character who is creepy and a complete wild card, but he’s also built up Wonder Woman’s place on the team ever so slightly. At the start, I wasn’t sure she belonged on a team as weird as this, but I’m more than certain she belongs on it now.
The art by Alvaro Martinez Bueno is exceptional and it does a lot in making the magic incredibly powerful and also capable of anything. There are a few double page layouts that convey the power being used in a scene or the terrible pain the heroes must endure. Wonder Woman’s moments of clarity are particularly magical and make her almost angelic.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The issue does feature some by-the-numbers plotting where each hero must fight and learn the hard way that they need to work as a team. As it stands the team has been more of a collection of heroes so it makes sense, but there comes a certain point where you see how this story will go. The Wonder Woman reveal is certainly shocking, but everything leading up to it is about as expected.
Is it good?
A good issue with an impressive villain and an even more impressive Wonder Woman reveal.