Wonder Woman/Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour #1 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Jesus Merino, Artist; Romulo Fajardo Jr., Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Intense Horror
Ray: A one-month crossover between Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark, “The Witching Hour” kicks off here with the oversized Wonder Woman/Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour #1. Spinning directly out of the first arc of Justice League Dark, it’s not so much of an event as a way to bring the major arc to a quick and thrilling conclusion rather than dragging it out over six months. It’s well appreciated, because the first arc of the parent title has been thrilling and its tone lends itself very well to an event book.
Tynion will be writing all five parts of the event, with two issues of Wonder Woman and one issue of JLD being bookended by oversized one-shots. And the issue wastes no time getting started with a flashback to Wonder Woman’s childhood, as she flees from the witches that branded her and retreats to the safety of her mother’s chamber. However, it soon becomes clear that the witches, who serve Hecate, have even more power than indicated. Diana has been brainwashed to forget her trauma, and despite Hippolyta’s suspicion, she’s unable to prove anything was done to her daughter.
From there, the story flashes forward to the present day as Diana and Zatanna gather the Justice League and Justice League Dark to inform them of the horror they encountered. The Upside-Down Man and his horde of otherworldly beings are coming, and no one has any real idea of how to stop him. For all the power of the Legion of Doom and the Totality in Justice League, nothing in that book has reached the level of unpredictability of this new villain. With Doctor Fate switching sides, everyone’s at a loss, and Batman – reuniting with his old flame Zatanna – is unsure if Wonder Woman is equipped to deal with it. The issue’s scariest moments come in quiet moments, when it becomes clear just how easy it is for Hecate and her witches to affect the most powerful people in the world – casually appearing to mindwipe the Justice League and erase the crisis from their minds.
The issue does fall into one of the most classic and unwelcome tropes of event comics – massacring a group of non-names or D-listers to show the threat is on. Obscure magic heroine Witchfire makes a return, only to reveal that she’s been infected with the same magical power as Wonder Woman – which manifests itself by possessing her and burning her from the inside out, incinerating all the residents of the Oblivion Bar except for Traci 13 and a few people she helps to escape. While I hate seeing obscure characters get killed off, the scene does a great job of capturing the terror and scale of the threat. The Justice League Dark, including Wonder Woman, is the focus here and they all get some great moments – including occasional ally Constantine. By the time Hecate actually makes her presence known as the big bad of the event, it’s clear that this story is much bigger than the parent titles teased. It’s only been four issues and the Justice League Dark is already up against Gods. This is how you do a team-up event.
Corrina: The Justice League titles have focused lately on universe-altering events based in pseudo-science, including unknowable giant beings that remind me of Galactus. The problem with this approach is that my suspension of disbelief breaks because, yeah, I have a limit to cosmic pseudo-science (I’m not sure of my tipping point but I have one) and having a menace so large and unknowable means the villains are a blank space.
Hecate is far from a blank space.
She is a chilling villain and she does one of the most terrifying things I’ve seen in a superhero comic, which is sideline the non-magical Justice League members with basically a wave of her hand and without any violence.
It immediately establishes her power levels effectively. I am not scared of the Upside-Down Man’s countenance. I am scared of Hecate blithely getting the better of the Justice League and them not even being aware of it.
I’m not so thrilled at the massacre that ups the stakes in this fight but it seems like mass slaughter is what villains do nowadays. And, hey, magic, so it might be undone.
Despite the massacre and the mind-wipe of the JL, Hecate’s control over Wonder Woman is the most terrifying part of this story, presenting a problem that Diana can’t fight or counter in any of her usual ways. This event promises to be a grim, intense, and compelling read.
I’m hoping all our heroes come out alive in the end.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.