Justice League Dark #4 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Alvaro Martinez Bueno, Penciller; Raul Fernandez, Inker; Brad Anderson, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: As The Witching Hour continues to unfold, the battle shifts to Nanda Parbat in Justice League Dark #4, one of the most spectacular issues of an event comic I’ve read in a while. This title has distinguished itself by carefully juggling high-octane horror and action with compelling character arcs for its team of heroes, and this issue is no different. As the issue opens, Diana has fully unleashed her Witchmark powers thanks to Circe’s help, and Zatanna is more than a little confused and horrified by what this means. There’s no time to debate, though, as Nanda Parbat has fallen under attack by the incredibly powerful Manitou Dawn – also under the control of the Witchmark. Although Dawn is the issue’s most powerful antagonist, she’s also battling against Hecate’s control – but Wonder Woman is the only one who’s managed to break it so far. As the monks of Nanda Parbat sacrifice themselves to protect their city, Hecate faces off against Rama, the spirit of the city. It seems like an apocalyptic showdown is building – until Wonder Woman shows up and shows just what Hecate’s power can do on the side of good.
Alvaro Martinez Bueno’s art is fantastic as always – complete with lush inks and colors from Raul Fernandez and Brad Anderson. Comics about magic don’t always have the art they need to pull it off, but this one makes every blast of energy feel electric and mysterious. The heroes manage to prevent the extinction of Nanda Parbat’s magic by convincing Rama to leave, but Hecate has an even bigger blow in store – courtesy of the newest member of her Witchmark clan, Black Orchid. This plant-based sorceress has been marked as well, and she’s now being deputized by Hecate to target the most powerful member of the Justice League Dark – Swamp Thing – by invading the Parliament of Trees and putting an end to the green. Ever since the Source Wall came down in Dark Nights: Metal, the threats the DCU has faced have gotten bigger, scarier, and more unpredictable. The Witching Hour is the perfect example of how to do an event comic that plays for keeps and doesn’t let character get lost in the explosions.
Corrina: I bow down to the set pieces in this one, which include things I’ve never seen before in a comic.
Foremost among them? The image of all the Deadman-style monks attacking Hecate while trying to take her over and then being utterly shredded and destroyed. That was mind-blowing and a use of Rama that I never expected. It gives that mysterious entity somehow more depth than in 99 percent of Deadman comics.
The last spread page, with Diana overtaken by the witchmark is one of the best last panel cliffhangers that I’ve seen as well.
Tynion also deserves credit for his use of the full stable of DC characters, including Black Orchid. Once again, the visuals steal the show as Hecate’s power infects the Parliament of Trees and the Green. Hecate is a character with depth, with a good reason to want to change the world, and the power to do it.
I’ve no idea how our heroes get out of this and that’s genuinely terrifying.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.