Justice League Dark #12 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Alvaro Martinez Bueno, Penciller; Raul Fernandez, Inker; Brad Anderson, Colorist
Ray – 10/10
Corrina: Order Imposes, Chaos Allows
Ray: Since this spinoff book debuted last year, it’s dwarfed anything else in DC’s stable for pure intensity and event-style storytelling. That doesn’t change with the conclusion of its second big arc, The Lords of Order, Justice League Dark #12. Nabu’s war on magic has wreaked brutal dividends, taking the lives of several heroes and threatening to strip the rest of their connection to their powers. But Wonder Woman and Zatanna have made a deal with the devil – namely, Chaos lord Mordu – in exchange for new powers of their own. Now rebranded as the new Lords of Chaos, they’ve returned to the battlefield with Detective Chimp, Man-Bat, and Swamp Thing all transformed into horrifying avatars of dark magic. Most transformations of heroes with new powers give them shiny new armor. Not so much here, where these heroes both majestic and bizarre look like something out of a creature feature. Detective Chimp, in particular, is highly entertaining as he takes apart Madame Xanadu’s transformed form.
However, as dramatic as these fights are, the transformed heroes aren’t the highlight of this issue. That would be obscure former Doctor Fate Khalid, who spent most of this run trapped in an enchanted vase. The last person willing to stand up to Nabu, he risks everything to trap his former partner and sets up a last desperate gambit involving Kent Nelson and Jason Blood. The number of twists in this issue is hard to keep track of, but it’s all grounded with an excellent flashback segment that shows the genesis of this team and the confusing nature of trying to battle against magic. The issue ends with the natural order seemingly restored, but much more chaos introduced into the world and the need for a new person to bring order to the chaos. Watching Wonder Woman and Zatanna take charge of the DCU’s magic has been fantastic, and there’s no comic in DC’s stable that delivers the same level of thrills. Phenomenal.
Corrina: I would rather that this particular issue had unfolded linearly, rather than the intercutting the narrative with flashbacks, because the flashbacks undercut the dramatic impact of Wonder Woman’s team arriving to battle Fate/Nabu. I understand the need to check in with each team member but sometimes the extra narrative flourishes aren’t needed.
That said, it’s a fascinating issue. The designs of the new Lords of Chaos strike me sometimes as a bit odd (a big gold WW across Diana’s chest?) but the art, particularly the shadings of color during the battle, and the lighter panels for Khalid, and the darker ones for the battle, are spectacular.
Diana’s choice also made me ponder the nature of order versus chaos. One protects, supposedly, while the other is a free-for-all. But protection can harm. Dorothy Umbridge didn’t seem to be one of Voldemort’s minions–indeed she was sent by the Ministry of Magic to “protect” the Hogwarts students. But her style of “order” was purposely cruel, as the order of Nabu and his cohorts are cruel. Percy Weasley, too, fell into the trap of wanting order, above all things.
Voldemort is an example of evil chaos unchecked, but Harry and his friends broke the “rules” too, spectacularly so. The Weasley twins are chaos, not order. Lawful evil is still evil, and chaotic good is still good. But Wonder Woman’s decision to take in the power of chaos reminds me of Person of Interest‘s Finch’s absolutely chilling monologue about “playing by the rules” to the AI Samaritan in “The Day the World Went Away” from season five of the show. (Aside, Person of Interest started as a good show. By the time it finished, it was a brilliant show. Aside #2: There are major spoilers in that clip near the end. Stop when Finch steps out of the interrogation room if you want to avoid them.)
It remains to be seen how many rules Diana and Zatanna will break and the consequences of their decisions.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.