Justice League Dark #7 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Alvaro Martinez Bueno, Penciller; Raul Fernandez, Inker; Brad Anderson, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: Pure Horror
Ray: In only a few issues, Justice League Dark has proven itself one of DC’s best books and earned a place of honor on Corrina and I’s joint Best of 2018 list. Not resting on its laurels, it kicks off 2018 with Justice League Dark #7, an experimental issue that proceeds to show exactly what the creative team can do when they’re unmoored from big event storylines. This has always been a horror-influenced title, but never more so than this issue, which feels inspired by classic anthologies like Tales from the Crypt.
Narrated by Man-Bat, the team’s researcher, as he looks into the horrifying phenomena that the Otherkind have caused, the issue features four disturbing tales of supernatural chaos guest-starring obscure heroes from the dark side of the DCU. The first takes place at a mysterious nightclub called “The Morning Star,” where the evil rich go to indulge their worst desires. Zatanna attempts to shut it down, but the satanic organizer soon finds himself engaged in a doomed battle with Otherkind invaders. The second features the return of cult hero I, Vampire, as he gets into a turf war with Swamp Thing and Detective Chimp – only to discover that the Otherkind are something far more horrific than even he’s used to.
The third story takes its cues from John Carpenter’s The Thing, as the Creature Commandos investigate a doomed ship in the Arctic with Wonder Woman, and find that the Otherkind can take forms both big and small. This one is alternately creepy and hilarious, in a darkly absurd way. However, it’s the fourth story that leaves the most impact – a mysterious tale that Man-Bat doesn’t even remember writing himself. It involves Sargon and Zatara in an endless, doomed battle against an eldritch being known only as The Rip, and it’s got some of the issue’s best and most disturbing visuals. The implications of this segment are huge, and yet to be fully revealed. But as good as all of these segments are, nothing quite matches the quiet horror of the final pages, as we find out exactly how Kirk’s being manipulated, and just how deep the Otherkind’s infiltration into the team has gotten. Tynion and Martinez Bueno stepping onto this book after their long run on Detective Comics may have seemed like an odd fit, but creatively it’s turning into one of the best decisions DC has made in a while.
Corrina: Justice League Dark #7 continues its trend of being the creepiest mainstream comic in forever. But in a good way. It’s not about gore, it’s not about blood, and it’s not even about death. It’s about those nightmares that seem to come to life, those fears that lurk at the edges of our brain and then ooze into everyday life.
Man-Bat makes an interesting narrator for all this because he, himself, is a creature out of legend, a scientifically-altered horror movie figure come to life. He knows it as well, and that knowledge that other, more powerful monsters, are being defeated by the Otherkind makes it even more terrifying for him.
As for the art, some of these images are the stuff of real nightmares, like the mashed-up being, but there are also the subtle touches, like the sequence in which I, Vampire’s fog goes in and then out of the graveyard. Implied horror is sometimes so much more effective.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.