“The Last Age Of Magic” – Part Two
Artists: Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Raül Fernandez & Brad Anderson
Usually it takes a half dozen or so issues before I decide whether or not I’m going to collect a title. After reading James Tynion IV’s spectacular run on Detective Comics, particularly the issues with art by Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Raül Fernandez & Brad Anderson, I’d almost decided that I was going to collect every instalment of Justice League Dark before reading a single issue. Two chapters in, and it’s official… I’m hooked.
Since the dawn of time humanity has usurped magic, but the creators of these mystic forces have seen us misuse this awesome power. Now they’re coming to reclaim what they believe is rightfully theirs. The real surprise this issue is finding out who actually invited them!
Tynion + Martínez + Fernandez + Anderson = Magic
I love seeing writer James Tynion tap into the very rich well of material contained in the DC archives. I’ve frequently gone on record stating that I’m a fan of his, not just because he’s a terrific writer, but also because he’s clearly a fan of great comics. This is a fresh new book, but his love and respect for Swamp Thing – particularly Alan Moore’s run – Zatanna, Doctor Fate, John Constantine and Wonder Woman just shines through.
Speaking of shining, the art in this book is nothing short of resplendent. Penciller Álvaro Martínez Bueno must be drawing 20 hours a day to attain the level of detail he puts into every single panel. Inker extraordinaire Raül Fernandez must cry tears of fear, and of pure joy when he sees what he’s been given to ink. I know that I run the risk of sounding like a scratched record when I talk about these guys, but together they are absolutely formidable.
Tynion’s horror is the kind that I love. Rather than creating great, slavering, hulking monsters, he gives us the truly terrifying. The creatures that inhabit these issues are much more chilling because they’re almost human… but in all the wrong ways. Like the Invunche from Moore’s “American Gothic” sequence, these creatures are warped and twisted people. That could almost be us, and that is truly scary. The way that messrs Martínez and Fernandez translate those descriptions into art must make Mr. Tynion jump for joy… or scream in terror.
I’m sure that Raül has actually adapted his inking style slightly for this title, adding beautiful cross hatching and feathering reminiscent of the late, great Bernie Wrightson and more latter day Swamp Thing legends like Stephen Bissette and John Totleben.
Check out the original B&W line-work above – courtesy of the artists – to see what I’m talking about.
The Color Of Magic
It doesn’t end there… oh, no! Then we come to the color art of the incomparable Brad Anderson. Remember what I said earlier about teamwork and cohesion? Brad Anderson was the colorist over the majority of James Tynion’s Detective Comics run, so having him join his long-standing colleagues Álvaro and Raül gives us a trio to rival DC Comics’ Trinity of Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman in all its sheer awesomeness.
Lest we forget, letterer Rob Leigh has also outdone himself. His work in this issue is exemplary, and all the more impressive considering he’s also been very busy on Batman: Kings Of Fear. His work is easy to read, art enhancing and unobtrusive. It’s sad that a letterer’s work is often overlooked, and, like the music in a movie, is often at its very best when it just works with the visuals and doesn’t distract from the art surrounding it. When it just fits in with, and elevates the work of the writer and artists. Comics are a team effort, and every member of this team is on fire.
Be afraid, be very afraid. It’s already been prophesied that this new Justice League will either save the Earth, or destroy it. With the shocking betrayal by one of DC’s most famous magical characters in this issue the latter is scarily becoming the most likely outcome. To find out who’s gone over to the dark side, for more classic John Constantine shenanigans, and for the debut of a villain that’s going to turn this series upside down, I have three words for everyone out there.
Buy. This. Book.
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment And The Artists.