JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #40

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[ BUGGERED BY A BARGAIN
Well, March 2015 has eventually come and gone, and JM DeMatteis, Andres Guinaldo, and Walden Wong have managed to destroy the multiverse before ol' Brainiac could pick up all the DC cities and shuffle them around on his great cosmic card table. Man! Dude's going to be playing with a short dec, eh?

To QUOTE the barmaid who found Dave Lister's box: “Oh! They've written its name on the side, 'ere. 'Our Rob, or Ross'”.

THE STORY:
OK. So where did we leave off? Yeah! That's right, the end of all that we know. A little bit of Brahmic rebirth, which probably looks like no big deal if you're, say, the cosmic manifestation of an incomprehensible power, or, a mere mortal reading these adventures under the presumption that they are works of fiction. But if you're a member of the Justice League Dark, being entirely consumed by Pralaya along with everything on every world in every galaxy across every universe, then you're going to have a bad time.

Damn! I was pretty sure they'd come up with a plan, wasn't I? “The Justice League Dark are a resourceful bunch” strikes me as a familiar phrase. But then they were all notably absorbed in to the aforementioned cosmic manifestation of an incomprehensible power. Maybe they weren't all that resourceful, after all?

But there's always the House of Mystery, right? And Houses of Mystery probably don't count as part of “every world in every galaxy across every universe” -- especially if they've got a magical reflection, or, a manifestation of intense loneliness stowed away on them somewhere. And I bet you, if we give them half a chance, those manifestations of loneliness can probably rustle up some assistance, to do... something... in the absence of creation.

Then again, maybe the team is just done for.

THE GOOD:
The Amber of the Moment continues to be a great story that could be the quintessential multiverse tale across all of the DCU. It's greatest failing, though, is that it appears to be quarantined in its own little neck of the galaxy with no impact on anything. Yet, the ride along the way was certainly fun. It was in my book, anyway.

This issue is a little bit of a let down after the awesome chapter that preceded it, but does far more than just wrap up loose ends. We start with the return of a character inexplicably missing from our big showdown with Pralaya last month, an explanation of the impossibility that opens the issue, and a slow reveal to our resourceful team's master plan.

Along the way, we get a lot of time spent dwelling on the importance of the two characters that started our series back in 2011. Even though John and Zatanna cast that darned curse which left one of them without any memory of the love they once shared, it is still an important part of their relationship and the driving force between Zatanna's recent journey in that place where time was young and magic was strong.

The inevitable resumption of the multiverse gave Guinaldo an opportunity to create some glamorous mystical backdrops. With, you know, world trees and whatnot.

THE BAD:
The only thing to criticize about this issue, is the fact that now we've reached the end of our Amber of the Moment story-arc, the overall narrative feels as if it were crafted around a checklist which dictates as to what sort of status the characters should be in when Convergence rolls around. (That is, to be spoilerific, Constantine has the House of Mystery, doesn't recall having feelings for Zatanna, Zatanna is burnt the hell out, and there is apparently no Justice League Dark team).

DeMatteis still did a magnificent job building an epic arc for the team to go out on, but it feels like he was limited by the oncoming Convergence and the editorial needs for the characters' outcomes. It's almost as if we were cheated of a final conflict unique to our team of mages and mystical beings, and instead had to just wrap things up after saving the multiverse.

Thanks for saving everything we know and love, kid. Now get your boots off my coffee table.

THE MUSIC:
I don't know if Mr. DeMatteis had the tune in mind when he wrote this issue. Maybe he had it in the back of his head throughout the whole Amber of the Moment arc. But it became cemented in my head as Zatanna half quotes it when she decides to send her magical conjurings off to that place where time is new and magic is powerful. (They really need a pithier name for that place).

Musically, it really matches the tone of the closing pages of this issue. Lyrically, it could be the theme not only to this issue or the whole arc, but to the full run of Justice League Dark. Ladies and gentlemen, Nature Boy by Eden Ahbez.




Come to think of it, from this point forward, I'm going to call the place where time is new and magic is powerful, “Eden Ahbez”.  As in, “hey, man, have you talked to the world tree of Eden Ahbez lately?”

THE COMPARISON:
On the first read through, the title of the final chapter, Ouroborus, appears to be referencing the relatively minor paradox introduced in the early pages as Zatanna's manifestation manages to conjure up a manifestation of herself. But then, there's the whole rebirthing of creation that Pralaya was busy with when said manifestations decided that they should ask her to maybe not swallow the multiverse today. Or perhaps, we're supposed to read in to it something about how the manifestations themselves end-up back in Eden Ahbez, indicating that they are the seeds of power that introduce magic into the world Eden Ahbez eventually grows in to? Or we could just take it literally as a reference to our fine series returning to where it began; with a bloke who nobody likes in a house that nobody trusts.

THE CONCLUSION:
This certainly felt like the end. It said “The End” on the last page. But is Justice League Dark really over? It wasn't on “the list of 13” that was going around in December and the current official issue description still doesn't indicate “final issue”.  But there's no issue 41 scheduled in June. Could it be bumped to July like Justice League United is said to be? Is it getting replaced by the enigmatic tease that is Magic U in a way similar to Constantine getting replaced by Constantine the Hellblazer? Who knows?

Presumably, someone at DC knows. Maybe they'll share that knowledge by the time this review gets published. Or they'll just keep us in the dark, like the terrible people we are, all folded up in a wooden box with a giant iron padlock and a sign warning the faint of heart to stay back at least ten yards.

Better make that twenty yards. I get stir crazy in the dark.

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