In “The Witching Hour – Part 4,” Hecate now has control of Wonder Woman, and just like that, the hope our team had for victory seems like a fleeting notion!
Justice League Dark has been one hell of a read so far, and James Tynion deserves all the praise he can get. He’s managed to embrace a corner of the DC Universe that hasn’t received much attention in recent years, and he’s shoved it into the spotlight – all while featuring some of the most dynamic and engaging characters on DC’s roster. And then you have “The Witching Hour” crossover, which feels like a grand opus on its own.
Hecate has made her way to earth, and is in the process of altering and rewriting magic as we know it. By her side, she has three witch-marked warriors: Manitou Dawn, Black Orchid, and Wonder Woman. As a final Hail Mary, Diana partnered with Circe to try and control Hecate’s magic within her, but ultimately failed – the only sign of hope the team and earth had. With the magical community dismantled and beaten, it appears as if the only endgame here is destruction.
Wonder Woman has been lost to the control of Hecate, Constantine has been stripped of his demonic blood, Swamp Thing is overwhelmed in trying to hold the Green together as Black Orchid attacks the Parliament of Trees, and Bobo and Man-Bat are simply out of their depths. Then there’s Zatana, who is incapable of casting any spells because the magic that she knows – the only form of magic that the earth has ever known – is being re-written. And that’s where the stakes come into play. Not only are lives in question here, but everything we know about magic could be changed. The heroes and villains of the magical community could soon be looking upon a new frontier as far as their craft is concerned, and there’s no end to the potential stories that could spin from this. For me, that’s exciting!
There isn’t a whole lot of plot in this issue – in fact, the previous chapter and this chapter almost feel like one long issue – but there is a nice amount of exposition that we receive here and it’s delivered respectively. While less exciting, this approach helps create broader stakes for the team as well as the DC Universe as a whole. It’s in these stakes that we establish more depth to our narrative while also creating little to no hope for our heroes. But it is in this lack of hope that a light shines through.
The magical community isn’t done fighting against Hecate yet, and people that we thought were dead or lost to this world aren’t bowing out of the fight easily. We learn early in the chapter that Witch Fire still exists in some form or dimension and is helping Wonder Woman. She’s not alone though. The Sisterhood of the Sleight Hand aren’t stopping their fight either. See, magic being rewritten isn’t a loss of magic, but simply magic that needs to be learned and utilized differently. And that’s exactly what the Sisterhood plans on doing.
Zatanna comes to understand this as well in this chapter, but it’s Constantine she has to inspire here. Without his demonic blood, he’s unable to wield the magic he previously controlled, and now he’s just a lowly exorcist… Which could be the very thing the Justice League Dark needs to turn the tides in their favor!
The Art: The art in this issue is outstanding! Emanuela Lupacchino’s pencils are crisp with a lighter tone that helps prevent this story from feeling too dark, but is far from being too light either. There’s also a cinematic nature to the panels as the focus shifts from characters, to big moments, to quiet, thematic images such as forest trees or the moon. Romulo Fajardo Jr. also adds an exponential amount of texture to the story through his colors. Whether it was his idea or scripted, I loved the opening pages where everything is depicted in grayscale except for Wonder Woman. It’s a subtle but effective technique that makes this book look and feel special from the word go.
- You’re curious to see how far Hecate will take her destruction.
- You don’t see a way out for the Justice League Dark.
- You enjoy nice, inspiring surprises in your narrative.
Overall: James Tynion slows the plot a little to provide more depth and exposition, but it comes at the perfect time to allow the story to breathe and expand in many ways. New stakes are established and the odds change for all players involved. This chapter might be low on energy compared to previous issues, but you’ll close this book more eager for the next chapter than you’ve ever been before.