REVIEW: ‘Justice League Dark Annual,’ Issue #1 – “A Carious Bloom”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Justice League Dark Annual #1

Justice League Dark Annual #1, “A Carious Bloom” is published by DC Comics,  story by James Tynion IV and Ram V, dialogue by Ram V, art by Guillem March, colors by Arif Prianto, and letters by Rob Leigh. This issue is a tie-in story to the current run on Justice League Dark (in its 13th issue), which is also written by Tynion.

Within this series, the Dark Justice League had to destroy magic in order to render the Lords of Order powerless so as to defeat them. Wonder Woman then used the Ruby of Life to restore what once was broken. Things, however, aren’t so easily resolved within stories such as these. As the force of magic begins to heal itself, it does so in ways never seen before. Every ounce of magic in the known universe is now different, causing every known spell, and reference text, utterly useless.

The effects are so far-reaching, that even the guardian of the trees, Swamp Thing, no longer serves the natural elements as its protector, as the collective consciousness has been destroyed. In its place, a parliament of flowers has arisen, and it has chosen a new guardian. Guided by the advice of John Constantine, he must race to find this new Guardian and hope to sway him towards taking on the mantle of protector for the kingdom of plant life.

As with all facets of nature, there is always balance, and the opposing forces of evil and villainy are also looking for the chosen one, bringing to the story Dr. Jason Woodrue, a.k.a Wood…Rue, a.k.a. The Fluronic Man. If you aren’t familiar with Swamp Thing, I’d highly recommend going to watch the current origin (sadly only one season) adaptation on the DC Universe, to which one of my colleagues has been gushing over. Read her review of Swamp Thing episode one here.

The symbology of the issue reads very closely to the shoulder angel and the opposing shoulder devil. Each one representing a different cause between conscience and temptation, right and wrong etc. As if things weren’t hard enough for the new guardian, he’s also battling with the intense mental anxiety due to his physical transformation. As well as dealing with the crushing guilt of having abandoned his wife via death, as she battles with the trauma and depression after the death of their son.

The tension that Tynion and Ram V fill this issue with, is insane. All of these external forces vying for the new Guardian, while he wrestles with his existence of whether he’s still a man or a plant with the man’s memories. They elevate the issue by cloaking the story with a malevolent horror plot that is conspicuously strewn throughout the pages and appears unexpectedly. I would love to give examples, but I don’t want to ruin what is a well-conceived story with a truly twisted ending.

I will say though, that I tremendously enjoyed the devious elements at work within Justice League Dark Annual. There is such a heavy feeling of extreme melancholy and it pairs so well with the demonic components. You can’t help but finish the story left only with a sense of satisfactory doom. The final pages are drawn and colored to perfection by March and Prianto, harking back to Fluronic man’s first rise to power, but the visuals they’ve captured on the page are haunting and truly frightening. I wish I could reveal more, but I’d have to spoil it! 

The panel design and the lettering are extraordinary. Leigh is able to encapsulate so many different voices, added with it the elements, and sounds of nature, that they flow from the page as if they were growing themselves.

Needless to say, it’s superbly crafted, and what I assume is meant to be a one-shot story, is deserving of more than just one. If you’re a fan of Swamp Thing, this should be an easy pick-up and an enjoyable read.

Justice League Dark Annual #1 is available now wherever comics are solid.


Justice League Dark Annual #1
5

TL;DR

Needless to say, it’s superbly crafted, and what I assume is meant to be a one-shot story, is deserving of more than just one. If you’re a fan of Swamp Thing, this should be an easy pick-up and an enjoyable read.