JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #39

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[ SHOP TILL YOU DROP

Yes, that's right. As February, 2015 came to a close, JM DeMatteis, Andres Guinaldo, and Walden Wong took an epic abstract concept from Samkhya philosophy, and then manifested it as an entity with control over the multiverse of DC Comics. Deal with it.

To QUOTE Markandeya: “I am known as Bal-Mukund and I am the creator and destroyer of this Universe. Now I leave it to you to disseminate this story”.

THE STORY:
A vortex in the heart of time.  Embodied thoughts from a fathomless psyche.  The unmanifest void, God's unconscious, the sea of Brahma.  This issue of Justice League Dark wades pretty deep in to religion and philosophy, my friends.  And that's a marvelous thing to behold.

Our team of eight, having just recently reunited with one another and the (re?) born House of Mystery, have reached their destination; the heart of Chronos.  The root of time across all reality.  So, of course, having abandoned said House, and draining Zatana's recently primed powers, they are now floating around in the void, talking smack as they try to punch ethereal Time Gremlins.

What was Batman's old adage?  “Sunday school teachers never told me that demons can be stopped with a strong right hook?”  (Or something like that?). That rule apparently doesn't apply to embodied thoughts from an infinite mind.  I'm sure they'll come up with a plan, right?  The Justice League Dark are a resourceful bunch.

THE GOOD:
This story is beautiful.  This is the set up that could ret-con any of the infamous Crises (including Flashpoint) of the past thirty-one years to be just what was perceived by our heroes.  Or our storytellers.  This is the story that should be doing what many suspect Convergence will be doing.  Maybe it is.  Maybe we'll find out next month.

But right now we've got a beautiful tale narrated by our perceived enemy, who, depending on how you look at it, isn't really an enemy at all.  Which is why it's so great.  

Deadman, who arguably should be the most in tune with Hindu philosophies, plays the part of the angry hero who will fight this challenge regardless of whether or not there's an actual enemy.  Bennett and Frankenstein fall to the background, holding their own and impressing Pralaya. 

But more or less, the general story-line focuses on Zatana, Xanadu, and Asa, three of the greatest sorcerers the world has ever known, and their efforts to stop Pralaya.

But can you stop the inevitable?  Can you 'magic up' a solution to the imminent end of this era?  And more importantly, is the end of this era actually a problem that needs a solution? That is the question posed, and friends, I think you know the answer.

THE BAD:
While this tale would be a beautiful and graceful way to (again) alter DC continuity (such that it is), unfortunately, I suspect that just like the soft-boot of Stormwatch's reality reset, this tale will be ignored by the majority of DC continuity and we'll get some sort of shenanigans involving alien beings harvesting cities from across the multiverse.  Maybe the tales will converge.  (See what I did there?)  Maybe they won't.  It would be a shame if this great tale is ignored.

Otherwise, there's not much to criticize in this issue.  The simplification of Pralaya is perhaps grating to students of philosophy or religion, but as far as comic book interpretations of vast abstract concepts go, DeMatteis did a pretty solid job.

There's the mysterious disappearance of the House of Mystery, both unexplained by our writer and unobserved by our heroes, yet when you're in the heat of battle in the heart of Chronos, perhaps that can be forgiven.

THE MUSIC:
Perhaps you've been wondering to yourself exactly how a trio of sorcerers, a vampire, a ghost, an undead warrior, a mystical experiment, and the Avatar of the Green, could possibly ward off a philosophical entity poised to absorb all of time and space back in to her womb so as to rebirth the multiverse?  I'm sure that's exactly what you've been wondering.  Well, read this issue of Justice League Dark and find out.  I'll give you a hint; Jim Croce's “Time in a Bottle” isn't really a long term solution.




THE COMPARISON:
As Pralaya revealed her intent over the course of this issue, I couldn't help but be reminded of a certain other entity that sought to roll across a world to consume it.  The Nothing from The Neverending Story, despite having no intentions of rebirthing Fantastica, did have intentions to eradicate it from existence.  But beyond that, we've got the concepts of a story being aware it is a story that can be rewritten.  Unfortunately, we can't really have a picture of The Nothing on this site, so we'll have to settle for his servant, Gmork, as seen in the film adaptation.

I don't know about you, but I'm assuming if I give Zatanna a new name then the multiverse will be saved.  Which is why I shouted it out the window the other night.  No matter how drunk the neighbors may have told the cops I was.

THE CONCLUSION:
I really hate it when people weaken the fabric of reality.  That's how you get runs in your reality and your thighs start showing through.  But stories about weakened fabrics of reality, well, that's just a whole craft store full of fun just waiting to be quilted.

This issue managed to both be full of random magic action fight scenes and fairly deep in its character introspection and philosophical questions.  It's pretty rare that a writer can capture both the fun of a superhero comic and the more inquisitive nature of -- shall we say, non-mainstream? -- comics in one story, but JM DeMatteis has managed to pull it off in this issue.

Don't worry, nobody's trying to sneak a philosophy text in to your Justice League Dark comic, my friend.  It's still the team you know and love, flinging their mystical might this way and that.  In fact, all but one of the following happens in this very issue.  Can you guess which one doesn't?

  • Black Orchid paraphrases George McFly.
  • Swamp Thing lectures on the wages of sin.
  • Deadman throws a temper tantrum. Or two.
  • Xanadu calls upon the spirits of her ancestors to invoke the power of three.
  • Frankenstein delivers his classic catchphrase, “Hrrn.”
  • Andrew Bennett invokes both his winged beast mode and multi-bat mode.
  • Asa gets all Dr McCoy with her “I'm a healer, damn it, not a space cowboy!”
  • Zatanna bursts a bubble.

*** Just reading and writing and rambling in the back of the Joker's old Ho-Home-On-Wheels... Keath.