“Justice League Dark” #34 wraps up its current storyline to make way for the “Futures End” issue, but it doesn’t hurriedly short out any of the storyline. Writer J.M. DeMatteis brings the team back together as Zatanna, John Constantine, Night Nurse and Swamp Thing attempt to locate and assist their comrade, Boston Brand (Deadman) before the looming evil of Pantheon consumes the world.
Pantheon is a Cthulhu-like behemoth formed from a collective of ten thousand fallen old gods, reawakened by Justice League Dark and set on destroying the world through Nanda Parbat, Deadman’s spiritual home. DeMatteis guides readers into Deadman’s thoughts and reviews the deceased acrobat’s past, including a deeper, longer connection to both Nanda Parbat and Deadman’s Yoda analog, Brahma Dass. The writer presents Deadman in all of his flawed humanity, sparking the fire of an incredibly relatable character and the true heart of this series. DeMatteis keeps the rest of the team in sight, giving each of them a moment to shine and more space to transmit their individual outlooks of their shared predicament.
Just as integral to the adventure and diversity on the pages of “Justice League Dark” #34, is the lettering provided by Rob Leigh. Each character has distinct caption boxes, from Deadman’s crimson boxes with white text to the calligraphic “N” tucked behind the dialog in Night Nurse’s captions. These extend to word balloons as well, with Swamp Thing bringing along his jagged orange balloons and Pantheon packing reversed balloons with bolded, script-like text. Leigh peppers the pages with classic-looking comic sound effects as well: “SHRAK,” “SHUKK” and “KROOOM,” among others, all amplifying the story written by DeMatteis with art from Andres Guinaldo.
Guinaldo is inked by Walden Wong, who favors cross-hatching over heavy blacks, guiding Guinado’s art to the right place for Chris Sotomayor’s colors. The end result is a nice-looking comic book as Guinaldo provides a slick collection of camera angles, character emotions and plenty of panels. The visual team collaborates nicely to deliver a story in pictures that mirrors the tale told through words. Deadman’s physical form translates from his ghostly visage, maintaining consistency despite the obvious difference in appearance, while the attacks from and on Pantheon are bold and imaginative. I was apprehensive about this book losing Mikel Janin’s art, but Guinaldo, Wong and Sotomayor prove to be more than up to the task.
Now that Nanda Parbat has been visited and explained, I’m looking forward to what DeMatteis, Guinaldo and company have in store for readers. “Justice League Dark” #34 is a solid read that adds depth to the dark corners of the DC Universe while providing Deadman fans with as close to a spotlight issue as a team book can provide.