Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Not Really Off-Topic: An Extended Review of Justice League Dark #39

For several issues, the Justice League Dark has been dealing with the aftermath of the clash between the House of Secrets and the House of Mystery. They have been tossed through time and space and other universes, and faced all kinds of terrible evil and mystical threat. Now, here at the end, they face a being that claims to be the ultimate source and destiny of all that is, a being that is herself the living embodiment of nothingness. She seeks now to reclaim the entirety of creation, to bring all things back to absolute death, or rather non-life, non-being, non-consciousness. She claims of herself a place of ultimate power beyond that of even God Himself.

Aesthetically, the book was good, though not exactly great. Justice League Dark has been spending too much time on giant threats. They should look to a book like TEEN TITANS to see how to do tighter, more character-developing stories. I liked some of the dialogue, but the storyline seemed far too familiar and the pacing was off. The art was fantastic as per usual.

But despite the moribund aesthetics, there were some ideas explored here that were too theological not to be discussed in some detail, and that raised the stock of the overall issue for me. I've said elsewhere that I think that in some ways we can talk about satan as the nothingness that pretends it is everything, just as God is the Everything that makes of itself nothing. Non-being, non-consciousness, non-life, these stand all around us screaming that they are what is truly ultimate in this universe. They claim for themselves godhood. Their claim is believable, if nothing else but for the way it is screamed into our faces.

Yet there is another voice, subtler, smaller, and more reserved. It exists in the light of every dawn, in the beauty of the galaxies, and in the life of that carpenter from Nazareth. It is a voice that whispers to us "I will love you forever." The heroes in the book are confronted by the scream of nothingness and respond by insisting that life is what is worth fighting for, life is what matters, and life is what is truly ultimate in the universe. The give a louder voice to that gentle touch that comes to the heart of each of us every time we laugh, play, hope, thirst for righteousness, or hold the one we love. But why should we believe the whisper over the scream?

Perhaps because within that screaming there is a hint of desperation. It sounds like the wailing of an insecurity complex, a kind of false insistence we know too much from our own self-deceptions. There is something alluring in that caucophany but ultimately some of us make the decision that is simply full of crap. That's the decision the Justice League Dark made, and I think it is the right one.

Storyline: 3.5 Stars
Dialogue: 4 Stars
Pacing: 3 Stars
Art: 4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars

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