The Justice League Dark, the off-shoot of the League that deals with magical threats, didn’t overly impress me with the first volume. But writer James Tynion’s work has been working out better for me of late, and he isn’t working with write Scott Snyder on the main Justice League book, so I opted to give it another shot with the second volume, subtitled Lords of Order.
The previous volume ended with a high point for that first volume: JLD scientific adviser Man-Bat was making a log of the various known entities of the deadly Otherkind, seemingly unstoppable beings who were taking out various DC magical types left and right. This volume opens with magical creatures of all kinds hiding from them in the Oblivion Bar with Detective Chimp. Wonder Woman and Zatanna are looking for the Lord of Chaos Mordru, a massively powerful wizard who may have some answers as to why Zatanna;s father Zatara sent her the Ruby of Life presumably from the afterlife.
But for all that the Otherkind are presented as a major threat, they aren’t the major foes here. Instead, the break in the Source Wall has let the Otherkind in, and other magical forces, someone more or less invited the Otherkind in with the intention of destroying magic once and for all. Who might that be? Well, that would be the Lords of Order, led by Nabu/Dr. Fate.
And they aren’t going to let a little thing like hiding in another realm stop them from reasserting order over reality. Magic is just chaos, after all.
So, this volume was a big improvement. The story was sharper, the characters seemed to be more in line of what I expect them to be, and the JLD actually got some work done. True, the Otherkind are still out there, but they defeated a threat with a lot of magical guest stars, most notably John Constantine and Jason Blood.
That said, there was one thing I was a little uncertain of. Much of this volume does some work to retcon John Constantine’s origin story and early appearances. Normally, this wouldn’t necessarily be much of an issue, but these are retcons to Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run. Constantine is generally the most manipulative bastard around, so finding out he perhaps was manipulated himself into doing certain things is a bit of a surprise, especially when it comes out who was doing that planning. It gives the book a bit of drama for one of its protagonists, but these are some rather classic Constantine stories we’re talking about.
Then again, the volume also included an annual with a solo Swamp Thing adventure dealing with his replacement as Guardian of the Green. It also worked a bit, reminding me of Moore’s run, but at the same time, something was set up for the future that I am a bit interested in now.
So, all things being equal, a bit of an improvement to the series as it finds its feet and own place in the greater Justice League world.
8.5 out of 10 exorcisms that really aren’t that helpful.