Justice League Dark has entered their second big story arc. And it does not get bigger for a Justice League team than to have their own version of the Legion of Doom be established. That is what we got with the Injustice League Dark becoming the villainous magic based team that the Justice League Dark are still just discovering as a threat. The Injustice League Dark went straight to the top to make their presence known as Circe battled Wonder Woman in the previous issue. The results of the battle was Circe taking over Wonder Woman’s body. How will Circe use Wonder Woman’s body to further her goals for the DC Universe? Let’s find out with Justice League Dark #17.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Javi Fernandez
Colorist: John Kalisz
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: A story about a princess who got tired of her abusive husband kills him. When the townspeople heard directly from the princess that she killed the prince they branded her a witch and devil. The princess fled her home because of this.
The princess turned out to be Circe, who while sailing through the sea repeated the names of everyone who wronged her as if she was casting a spell. Eventually Circe came to an island where Hecate lived. Hearing Circe talk about why she seeks power Hecate passed down the Witchmark, which housed one-fifth her soul, to Circe.
Circe then used the power to get revenge on the people who kicked her out of her home, transforming them all into animals.
In the present Circe as Wonder Woman is mesmerized by the Diamond of Eclipso that is being held beneath the Hall of Justice. Zatanna and Doctor Fate wonder if Wonder Woman is okay. Circe-Wonder Woman tells Zatanna she needs to show the others the Diamond of Eclipso. Zatana warns Circe-Wonder Woman not to taunt Eclipso.
Circe-Wonder Woman, Zatanna and Doctor go meet with the others. Detective Chimp, John Constantine and Khalid Nassour tell the trio that Man-Bat tried to kill them after taking a new dosage of his serum. Constantine reveals that Man-Bat did this under a mystic influence.
Doctor Fate says they need to sever the link between Man-Bat and his influencer. Doctor Fate goes to work to sever the link on Man-Bat.
As he does that Detective Chimp tells Zatanna that Swamp Thing is out of commission for the time being.
Detective Chimp suggests that they tell the other Justice League teams about what they are dealing with as things have escalated to far. Circe-Wonder Woman suggests they call Jason Blood. Detective Chimp agrees.
Detective Chimp then pulls Zatanna to the side and tells her that she needs to bind Wonder Woman immediately. Zatanna wonders why she should do that. Detective Chimp says that Wonder Woman has not taken her eyes off the Diamond of Eclipso since she showed up in the conference room and believes they are under attack.
When Zatanna starts saying a spell Circe in Wonder Woman’s body quickly counters the spell by doing one of her own that makes Zatanna’s mouth completely shut. Everyone realizes that Circe is controlling Wonder Woman. Circe immediately uses a spell on Detective Chimp to turn him into a regular chimpanzee.
Circe then summons Floronic Man, Klarion, Teekl, Papa Midnite and Solomon Grundy to join her. The Injustice League Dark quickly overwhelm the Justice League Dark thanks to their surprise attack.
Seeing her teammates in danger Zatanna uses a dagger to cut her mouth open. Zatanna then immediately recites a spell to teleport the Diamond of Eclipso back in its containment unit. Zatanna then tells Doctor Fate to take them all to the vault. Doctor Fate does just that and teleports the Justice League Dark to the vault.
Klarion complements Zatanna on acting quickly. Papa Midnite asks Circe why the Justice League Dark went into the vault. Circe says the Justice League Dark plan to use the powerful artifacts locked inside against them. Circe then says they will make sure that won’t happen by burning the Justice League Dark out of the vault.
In the Collective Unconscious, Wonder Woman asks Witchfire if there is a way for her to get control back of her physical body. Witchfire says that unlike last time that Hecate helped Wonder Woman there is no such power in the Collective Unconscious realm. Witchfire tells Wonder Woman that at least things can’t get worse.
Just then the Upside-Down Man appears in the Collective Unconscious realm. He states that things can always get worse. End of issue.
The Good: Justice League Dark #17 builds on what came before it and establishes how big of a threat the new Injustice League Dark are to the DC Universe. What’s amazing about all this is how James Tynion IV makes sure that every character involved gets a moment to shine. At no point do any of the Justice League Dark members fade into the background. Everyone is important to the plot and that is simply amazing.
While things stay contained to the Justice League Dark’s headquarters below the Hall of Justice at no point does “The Witching War” come across as small. Throughout Justice League Dark #17 Tynion is able to give the story an aura that things are about to blow up if our heroes can’t stop Circe and her Injustice League Dark. The credibility for the Injustice League Dark shows the great job Tynion has done to make the magic-based threats things that cannot be avoided in the DC Universe.
Circe gaining control of Wonder Woman’s body speaks to that. The way it was all done shows how at any moment a powerful magic user can even gain control of someone of Wonder Woman’s high stature. The way she was able to at least buy herself time to get the Diamond of Eclipso shows how well prepared Circe was for this. Being able to get a spell out before Zatanna to shut the powerful magician down before the fight began added to Circe’s impressive showing in Justice League Dark #17.
It added to the backstory that Tynion dedicates the opening pages to Circe. This was very much needed since Tynion has positioned Circe as one of the biggest magic-based threats in the DC Universe. Having readers understand what drives Circe gives a better idea of what her end goals are. This is especially useful for new readers who aren’t familiar with the DCU version of Circe.
At the same time, it was good to see that Tynion did not sacrifice the Justice League Dark to completely put over the Injustice League Dark. Detective Chimp in particular was able to prove the biggest difference as she showed how his unique skills allow him to recognize Wonder Woman wasn’t herself. That keen eye of Detective Chimp was the big difference maker for the Justice League Dark to survive this surprise encounter with the Injustice League Dark.
Zatanna also had a great showing as she did not let Circe’s surprise attack stop her from helping her teammates. Zatanna cutting her sealed mouth open with a dagger was a brutal visual. This was a moment that showed how strong Zatanna is as she did not let the pain of cutting her own mouth open from getting the Justice League Dark in position to win.
With how the battle turned out the Justice League Dark are placed against a corner that will be interesting to see how they get out of. Especially with Circe in control of Wonder Woman’s body Tynion has given the Justice League Dark their biggest challenge to date. It is the perfect way to keep the Injustice League Dark looking strong with the possibility of having more long-term potential beyond “The Witching War.”
As all that goes on, Tynion also has done a good job in giving Wonder Woman her own storyline that is still connected to what is going on with her team. We continue to see how being a rookie in the magical realm has hurt Wonder Woman. It is what allowed Circe to completely dominate Wonder Woman when they fought. Now with Wonder Woman placed in a situation that she has no idea how to get out of Tynion has built a sub-plot that has many questions with no clear answer. Adding Upside-Down Man to the equation only adds to the questions around what will happen with Wonder Woman in the Collective Unconscious realm.
Javi Fernandez continues to be a reliable, consistent artist that helps elevate Tynion’s writing. The opening that goes over Circe’s backstory showed the flexibility Fernandez has in his art style to give a different tone to these scenes. He helped put over how Circe felt wronged by everyone that crossed her path. The heavier use of blues in this opening by John Kalisz helped in making Circe’s backstory standout from the rest of the issue.
Once Justice League Dark #17 got back to the events going on in the present Fernandez delivered the same big event looking artwork we come to expect. There was an anticipation that was building for when Circe would reveal she was in control of Wonder Woman. Once that happened Fernandez got over how chaotic things quickly got as the Justice League Dark and Injustice League Dark started fighting.
The Bad: Much like it was in the majority of the other comic books from DC Comics the whole Legion of Doom signal shining over the sky did not fact at all in Justice League Dark #17. This issue was even more proof as to how unnecessary it was for the storyline involving the Legion of Doom did not have to be thrown at the end of every comic book from DC last month. Not touching on what that meant just makes how unimportant that story feels right now.
Overall: James Tynion IV and Javi Fernandez hit another home run withJustice League Dark #17. Tynion does a great job pacing the story of “The Witching War” out to maximize the impact of Circe and the Injustice League Dark’s direct attack on the Justice League Dark. How it all turned out builds anticipation on what the status quo for both teams will be after all is said and done in “The Witching War.”
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