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“The Witching Hour – Part 2” continues in this week’s issue of Wonder Woman, and as expected, James Tynion continues to kill it with this story and roster!

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I’ve been singing the praises of Justice League Dark since it’s debut, and today will be no different. James Tynion has crafted a story that is engaging, relevant, fresh, and doesn’t feel forced. The entire arc, so far, has unfolded like a natural progression of the events that stemmed from Justice League: No Justice, as the magic community – and even magic itself in some ways – respond to the change in status quo. Simply put, it’s been a damn good story!

One of these changes has fundamentally impacted Wonder Woman to her core, and manages to do so without making any drastic alterations to her origin story. Instead, Tynion is simply exploring an unknown and forgotten encounter that occurred between Diana when she was a child and the goddess of magic, Hecate.

Following events simply known as the “Witching Hour,” we’ve learned that Wonder Woman was marked by Hecate as a child and that she has, unbeknownst to Diana, hidden her power within Wonder Woman for decades. So far, Wonder Woman has managed to control the power within her to the team’s advantage – temporarily stopping the Upsidedown Man – but with there being little information about what’s actually happening to her, the team seeks help… And the help they’re seeking leads them to the door of one of Wonder Woman’s greatest enemies!

Now, as many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I won’t try to pretend like the beats of “The Witching Hour” don’t resemble some major plots from that series, but all of this is unique enough that it doesn’t feel like an outright lift. Yes, there are direct similarities between Wonder Woman and Willow concerning their inheritance of power, and the control they have over it versus the control it has over them.  There are even similarities with Buffy seasons 7 and 8 in the respect that there’s an idea to fundamentally alter magic (making all potentials actual slayers) at the risk of losing magic forever (destruction of the Seed)… But seeing these stories unfold in this universe with these characters helps the story feel fresh and different.

While Wonder Woman is undoubtedly the star of this run, the “supporting” characters do more than carry their own weight. In fact, they help make this book feel special. Zatanna and Constantine play large roles in the overall narrative while adding a foundation in magic that separates them from the rest of the group. Meanwhile, you have the likes of Detective Chimp and Man-Bat that bring a monster/ scientific approach and outlook to the team, while Wonder Woman and Swamp Thing encompass the mystical/ folklore aspects of the narrative. Factor in the strong personalities of each of these characters, and you’re left with an entertaining and engaging book! But this issue takes it a step even further by looping in two other characters: one being the villain I teased above, and the other being a hero and former member of the Justice League Dark.

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Diana turns to Circe, and while this may be an obvious direction for the team, it’s also a welcomed one. Having Circe actually agree to help our heroes adds different stakes to the narrative and a lingering question of will she stick with the team or betray them? Also, I’m not sure why they decided to change Circe’s appearance after her reveal, but I feel like it would’ve been more impactful had they kept her appearance the same.

The other addition to the narrative is Deadman! Now, he doesn’t play a large role here, but I’m a huge fan of Deadman, so his inclusion is always welcome! I mean, who doesn’t love Boston and the quirk that he can bring to stories? He’s great!

In addition to the strong characters and well-crafted story, I have to praise Tynion for coming up with great stakes! Yes, there is an all-powerful threat here, but that doesn’t feel like the looming, long-term threat. I’m not worried about whether or not the team will survive trying to stop Hecate – a trope that is overused in comics at this point (“Will they survive?”), but instead, I’m curious as to what effects this story will have on the world, on magic, and Diana’s abilities. There are so many possibilities and outcomes that I can’t help but feel invested.

Despite the near flawlessness of the story, some of Tynion’s bad habits do pop up. I’ve commented on Tynion’s tendency to over-write in past reviews, and we see very minor hints of that here. There’s also a disagreement between Zatanna and Wonder Woman concerning how to deal with the situation at hand that also feels a little overdramatic. The opposing ideas between the two are both worthy arguments, but at this stage and with these two women, it felt a bit forced. Again, these are minor callouts, but are worth mentioning for argument’s sake.

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The fact that Zatana is upset that Diana wants to try and control this power within her doesn’t make sense to me. Why would she get upset? It’s already been established that Hecate will control those she’s marked, so it would seem that the only defense to this would be for Diana to fight it, and using Circe as a source of knowledge makes sense. If Zatanna wanted to fight about something, she should’ve encountered Diana about lying to the Justice League or press whether or not Circe really can be trusted.

In the end, this continues to be a solid read that’s worth your time and money. Tynion appears to have a plan in place and since he’s writing all of the chapters of this crossover, you can expect there to be a consistency in quality, tone, and execution.

The Art: I can’t talk about the art without first commenting on both covers for this issue! Talk about works of art! The main cover is by Yasmine Putri completely captures the warrior aspect of Diana, but does so with complete grace. The juxtaposition of the colors as the red contrasts heavily with the black and white makes this sheer perfection! And then you have the equally stunning variant cover by Jenny Frison that completely captures the darkness that may be consuming Wonder Woman. Not only is this variant eerie, but it’s strangely beautiful as well. What I really like though, is how the two covers, together, match the conflict that Wonder Woman is currently facing.

For internal art, we are graced with pencils by Emanuela Lupacchino and colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr. Together these two manage to create a world and story that embraces the darker and mystical elements of this narrative without ever making the story look or feel too evil. Rather than have the story appear as though it’s of another genre, the book still feels like a story that’s occurring within the DC universe, but is imbued with touches of the mystics rather than being consumed by them.

Recommended if:

  • You’re a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Harry Potter
  • Wonder Woman discovers something she didn’t know about herself
  • Our heroes make a wicked alliance with a long-running villain

Overall: “The Witching Hour” is quickly turning out to be one of the best crossover events in years – yes, even surpassing the event that spawned it, Justice League: No Justice! Tynion has crafted one hell of a story that excels in both narrative and characterization, taking the DC Universe down a path that feels both fresh and original! If you’re not reading this story – or Justice League Dark for that matter – you are truly missing out!

SCORE: 8.5/10

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