Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Alvaro Martinez
and Raul Fernandez
Published by DC Comics
“Mordru does not request. He commands the Universe, and it obeys.”
Man, that Mordru guy is a real piece of work.
Guess it comes with the territory.
But if bending the natural forces of the universe to his will in order to inflict violence upon it is the Lord of Chaos’ game, he’s certainly got good company. Hard to see that the Lords of Order are doing any different.
But at least it’s all out in the open now, and all the players are on the page. And that means, this issue, while the Lords of Order are awaiting the decision of the world’s magic users to their ultimatum, it’s time, finally, for Mordru himself to take center stage.
No surprise he would do it in style.
You’d think with the fate of magic itself on the line, and so much under all-out assault from various quarters, there’d be a little less of our heroic league being led around by the nose to get the answers and the power they need to fight back effectively.
But, of course, that would make for a less interesting story. The fact that Circe and Mordru (among others?) are still seemingly more than content to operate from the shadows of the periphery in this conflict, does certainly lend weight to the idea that their manipulations are driving towards a yet-unknown endgame of their own.
But that’s the way magic users seem to operate. Given the choice to tilt the game in their favor and amass more power for themselves, I imagine most of the magic users and magical beings fleeing from Myrrha under Bobo and young Khalid Nassour‘s guidance, would all be doing very much the same.
Unfortunately for them, this seems to be a game for the original A-list players, and so the best choice they have on the table at this point is to either go down with the ship, or give up their power entirely in order to preserve their lives.
And it seems there’s a distinction to made between those heroic souls who have been thrust into the worlds of magic despite themselves, and those whose lives have always been about the pursuit of that power for their own self-serving ends.
Particularly when displays of heroism are met with such finality. Poor Blue Devil.
For all Mordru’s posturing and demonstration of power, however – showcased to wonderful effect, once again by the masterful artistry of Alvaro Martinez Bueno, whose work this issue makes a few satisfying nods to Alan Davis – help the League he does.
All under his own terms of course, but right now Zatanna and Wonder Woman need all the help they can get. And there’s certainly nothing stopping Diana at any rate, from making her opinions about the self-styled Lord of Chaos very, very clear.
Really, author James Tynion does a fantastic take on Wonder Woman, and all his characters. His dialogue is a joy to read.
What I’m less clear about are the distinctions being drawn between all the quadrants of magic in this saga. In large part I think that’s because, for all the sheer wonder of magic being brought to bear in these pages, so much of it is really, really dark.
Which ok, I mean the title of the book itself is Justice League Dark after all. And these are comic stories, which pretty much requires an unending rollout of conflict. And yes, magic is dangerous. Pretty clearly.
But all these supposedly different factions and opposing branches of magic… Whether we’re talking Lords of Order and Lords of Chaos; Hecate, the original Goddess of Magic, or the nether-dwelling Otherkind; spooks and demons, night swords and the ancient ruins of the first mages… Everything, and everything that’s being done, seems to be couched in dark designs and dark materials, dark histories and dark consequences.
So, is there any Good magic in all of this? Any Light? Because so far, I haven’t seen any. Other than the beleaguered heroic spirit of our champions.
And let’s talk about Order and Chaos. Because, to my earlier point, right now I’m not seeing much difference between Mordru’s fetish for dominance, and the rather nihilistic demands the Lords of Order are imposing on the world of magic. Instructive perhaps to appreciate that all these players were of the original Homo Magi, when mankind first wrested away the creative fire of the gods to serve their own ends. Helpful as well, to understand that all of them were complicit in the rape of Hecate at her prime… for all that some apparently enjoyed it more.
So, it’s not the use – or abuse – of power that distinguishes the original, erstwhile Lords of Magic. Best I can tell, the main difference between Mordru and the Lords of Order is that the Lords of Order have relied on structure to harness the power of magic. And that their aim, from the dawn of their time, was to create more structure.
And presumably, this same structure, conferred some degree of moral authority.
The pretensions of which, have now been stripped away.
If Mordru demonstrates anything, it’s that the structure is not necessary. And perhaps in the end, that will be the point. Perhaps everything Tynion is doing to articulate the larger structure of the DC magical universe now, is simply a necessary step to breaking it all down again. Perhaps the point really is just to break all the #&*% rules… so that something new entirely can be built from the ashes.
All of which certainly makes for a rather excellent final end-page this month.
I just hope our team uses their new, desperately needed, source of power wisely.
Because it seems like a renewed foundation for moral authority is needed again, now, more than ever before.
Next Issue: Chaos Agents!