Review: Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)


It's a lot to bite off to do an extra-series crossover after just three issues of a new book. If that book is a team book, however, and the writer is James Tynion, I'd be inclined to think it might work, and indeed it does. Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour is a great quickie event, well written and well drawn; not only does Tynion continue to present an enjoyable new Justice League Dark team, he also pulls from wide swaths of the near-modern DC Universe to pepper the background. Already Tynion shows signs of doing for DC's magic characters what he did for the Bat-family, and possibly the magic users need it more. If this is a taste of what's to come, I'm on board.

[Review contains spoilers]

In just the first chapter, Tynion's got Witchfire, late of Kurt Busiek's Power Company, plus the Oblivion Bar of Shadowpact fame; in the second chapter, he's got Manitou Dawn, last featured over ten years ago in Joe Kelly's JLA titles. Those are some deep dives — plus Deadman and Black Orchid, among others — that demonstrate the extent to which Tynion is thinking about magic in the DC Universe for this title, including aspects like the Green, the Red, and the Rot. Too often magic titles are indistinguishable from books about superheroes with other sources of power, but I felt like Tynion imbued magic here with enough depth and variance to make it something distinct.

Justice League Dark indeed needs a sense of "darkness," and I thought Tynion also did well creating a sense of moral uncertainty that was still in line, particularly, with the character of Wonder Woman. At the start, beset by magical powers she doesn't understand, Diana lies to the rest of the Justice League proper out of uncertainty, embarrassment, and a sense of trying to protect her friends. Batman then tries to recruit Zatanna to spy on Diana, something Zatanna refuses, but there's a strong thread of mistrust and suspicion throughout the book that's interesting. Diana and Zatanna eventually reconcile; I don't feel I've seen the two of them much in titles together and it should be fun to see them now essentially costarring. It also seems inevitable that Tynion should have the Justice League versus Justice League Dark somewhere down the road, with Wonder Woman stuck in the middle.

Though tied inextricably with ancient mythology, Wonder Woman has rarely been considered a magic character per se, and if there seemed to be a goal of Witching Hour beyond what could be accomplished in Justice League Dark on its own, it might be emphasizing the magic of the gods as relates to Wonder Woman (even revealing their new magic-based origins) and doing so with the inclusion of the Wonder Woman title itself. Tynion even integrates elements of the most recent Wonder Woman runs, with a visit to the abandoned Olympus and, especially, Emanuela Lupacchino doing a great impression of Bilquis Evely's Circe from Greg Rucka's stories. It would be very easy for Justice League Dark to be its own title with Wonder Woman as a figurehead, but with these details Tynion suggests a commitment to making Diana's portrayal's cohesive.

Other characters fare equally well. Zatanna shines here, as mentioned (the Batwoman to Diana's Batman, in terms of Tynion's Detective Comics). As with Tynion's first Justice League Dark volume, Man-Bat is an oddball delight (Tynion's Clayface, I'd say); I've no idea on what Tynion bases this absent-minded professor take on Kirk Langstom, but it's funny. Detective Chimp continues to laugh through his tears; surely we're about at the point where he deserves his own series. I appreciate the continuity with Shadowpact, with Chimp wielding Nightmaster's sword, and also, for instance, a mention of the previous (if weirdly alt-continuity) Justice League Dark when Deadman arrives on the scene.

I imagine obviously Wonder Woman's sticking around on this title and also Zatanna (my hot take is I like Zatanna a lot more with a team than in a series based on her being a traveling performer), and also Man-Bat and Detective Chimp. From there, I'm not sure if Swamp Thing will be back again, or John Constantine (and/or if Constantine's upcoming appearances in the Sandman Universe books will make him unavailable for Dark). Given that, I'd be happy to see Boston Brand stick around, for old time's sake, and Black Orchid. I think Black Alice is in the background a couple times, too; it was always fun to see the goth-ified take on other heroes' costumes that she had when she'd borrow their powers.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour

So again, with Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour, James Tynion is off to a dynamic start; a crossover this early was risky, but having succeeded, Tynion's now got a lot of Justice League Dark material under his belt in a short amount of time. There's all sorts of "Year of the Villain"s and "Doom War"s coming up in Scott Snyder's Justice League, but hopefully Justice League Dark gets some attention, too. Dare I say, in this short amount of time, it might be the better book?

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour
Author Rating
4.5 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 2 )

  1. Justice League Dark is definately a better book than Justice League. Justice League tries so hard to be epic and momentous that it just feels repetitive and boring. Everything in every issue relates to events billions of years ago which have been kept secret until now but which somehow almost everyone in the DCU knows about? And Luthor has a magical doorknob which even by comicbook standards is silly and not in a good way like Detective Chimp.

  2. You've convinced me to order both "Dark" trades. Sounds delightful fun mixed with true horror. Thanks again for the reviews!


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