Justice League Dark #40

Existential mental gymnastics welcome the reader into "Justice League Dark" #40, the final issue of the series, as one of John Constantine's memories brings the readership up to speed in the sixth chapter of "The Amber of the Moment." Written by J. M. DeMatteis and drawn by Andres Guinaldo, this chapter spends most of the time focused on the adventures of Constantine and Zatanna -- except that the Zatanna present in these pages is as metaphysically challenged as Constantine.

Regardless of the physicality of the protagonists in "Justice League Dark" #40, DeMatteis cleans up some loose ends in the form of Pralaya. As Constantine refers to her in this issue, "the embodiment of cosmic oblivion" still threatens the multiverse, but the only ones available to save it are the shadows of Constantine and Zatanna. If it weren't for the fact that DeMatteis reminds readers of the fact that the duo are less real, the writer gives Zatanna and Constantine enough personality and gumption to pass as the real deal. Additionally, Zatanna provides some topnotch, Batman-level strategy to the conflict.

Unfortunately, Andres Guinaldo's art is inconsistent and in need of a bit more refinement. Inker Walden Wong keeps things clear, but there are some extra lines that make "spirit" Constantine and Zatanna old and they are inconsistent with the tale at hand. In comparison to the "real" Zatanna, the only signs of aging are a couple wrinkles under the eyes. The profiles of Constantine and Zatanna wobble throughout "Justice League Dark" #40 as well, which is concerning considering the tight, small cast in these pages.

On the positive side, however, the artistic duo -- with Chris Sotomayor bringing the colors -- really deliver a mind-opening experience in their depiction of the cosmos during the climatic battle of this final issue. Travis Lanham packs the word balloons with punch and adds nice, subtle tags to the caption boxes throughout the comic. Pralaya's dialogue, especially, is unlike anything else in comics today, mixing mysterious supernatural and cosmic omnipotence in every chunk of the threatening destroyer's speech.

As "Convergence" creeps in and "Justice League Dark" eases into a hiatus, so DeMatteis, Guinaldo, Wong, Sotomayor and Lanham close out this series. More than once, members of the gathered group of heroes refer to the collective as "Justice League Dark," which is the name of the book, but a brand I thought no one in the book relished. Regardless of what they call themselves, the loosely-connected gang of mighty mystics is given a chance to pack everything up. Even the House of Mystery is afforded the luxury of a wrap, but the conclusions fall more into the category of "Done" as opposed to "Memorable."

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