Review – Justice League Dark #9: Last Stand at Midnight

Justice League Dark #8 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Justice League Dark #8 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Alvaro Martinez Bueno, Penciller; Raul Fernandez, Inker; Brad Anderson, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Freaky Good

Ray: One of the best things about James Tynion IV’s work on Justice League Dark is that he’s been building a giant meta-arc out of his DC work for years now, and it’s all converging in this fantastic horror extravaganza. The DNA between this title and No Justice and Detective Comics is obvious, but this issue even pulls in his highly underrated work on Constantine: The Hellblazer with Ming Doyle and Riley Rossmo. Picking up in the aftermath of last issue’s anthology which chronicled Man-Bat’s descent into insanity, the Otherkind are still running wild in the DCU, and the remaining heroes of the JLD can barely keep up. The opening segment, involving a mindwiped Felix Faust and an army of demonic invaders, shows how far Zatanna is willing to go to stop the invasion – and how this may be driving a rift between her and Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, the Oblivion Bar is overrun by magical refugees, and tensions are high – erupting in a brawl between a mutating Swamp Thing and a visiting Jason Blood.

The changes in Swamp Thing haven’t been fully explored yet, but he’s displaying new powers and a new, more hostile personality ever since the death of the Parliament of Trees. The Constantine connection comes into play when Zatanna and Diana pay a visit to Papa Midnite’s bar in Hell’s Kitchen – yet another place that has fallen prey to the Otherkind – and it’s great to see the manipulative antihero again. This issue is much busier than previous issues, also including a subplot involving Kirk’s experiments bringing back a fan-favorite character who I was very glad isn’t stuck in limbo anymore, and an invasion of the Oblivion Bar by the Upside-Down Man that sends the refugees fleeing once again, this time into Myrra. But as the cover indicates, a far bigger threat is waiting for them there. Visually, this issue is fantastic, but it wouldn’t work nearly as well if Tynion hadn’t successfully gotten us invested in the fate of this entire bizarre ensemble of heroes.

Justice League Dark #9
The mad experiments of Dr. Langstrom. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: This comic gets scarier and scarier, without any gore, but with a ramping up of suspense and fear and worry about our heroes, especially Bobo and his realm of refugees.

There’s worry about what Zatanna is becoming. There’s worry about Man-Bat and if/how he survives all this because that sequence of him sorting out spells is one of my favorites in the whole series. Hello, Khalid! I missed you.

All the magical elements of the DCU are being used and, yet, this book never feels overcrowded or confusing. The stakes are unbearably high but they’re grounded in Bobo’s grief, in Man-Bat’s curiosity, in Zatanna’s desperation, in Diana’s concern for the world, in Papa MIdnite’s cynicism.

This is going to be one of the DC runs that people cite years from now as “best of.”

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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