WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Justice League Dark #1 from James Tynion IV, Alvaro Bueno, Raul Fernandez, Brad Anderson and Rob Leigh, on sale now.
In comics, magic is one of those concepts creators constantly find themselves drawn to. As such, DC Comics has often toyed with it's very definition, treating it as a higher-evolved science at times, while other stories present it simply as a full-fledged mystical power.
In short, while magic exists across the multiverse, its origin has never been truly defined or consistent. Magic has been found in the depths of space, it's been tied to the pantheon of Greek gods, and affiliated with supernatural beings such as the Spectre. But mostly, it's merely something the 'homo magi,' aka the DCU's magic wielders, have been able to exploit.
In Justice League Dark #1, though, it seems DC is rewriting the history of magic and giving it a more definitive backstory, explaining how it came to exist across the entire cosmos.
Currently, magic in the universe is broken. This drives Wonder Woman to recruit a new Justice League Dark team, because as someone whose people in Themyscira have been associated with magic (not to mention the fact that her godhood is tied to the ethereal power), she believes she needs to safeguard it.
She tries to enlist Zatanna, only to learn the hero-slash-stage magician's spells are backfiring, leaving her clueless why magic is malfunctioning and endangering innocents. But even though magic seems to be hellbent on attacking humanity, Zatanna doesn't think Wonder Woman can help her find the answers, and turns her former teammate down.
From there, Justice League Dark peeks in on a wide array of characters trying to figure out what's wrong. Jason Blood (the human form of Etrigan the Demon) is hosting a cabal of heroes and villains, from the Phantom Stranger to Klarion the Witch Boy to Morgaine le Fay to Deadman. Blood doesn't believe superheroes from "the light" (like the Justice League) can solve a problem based in the shadows, and has thus taken it upon himself to gather his own group to see what's gone wrong.
Meanwhile, Wonder Woman goes the scientific route to discover the root cause of magic going haywire, along with Man-Bat (a redeemed Kirk Langstrom) and Detective Chimp (the new Nightmaster). This trio believes the recent breach in the Source Wall, which occurred in No Justice, may have caused Anti-Energy, or Dark Energy, to seep into the world, possibly poisoning magic.
As everyone run through their theories, Zatanna comes face-to-face with the harsh truth of magic and why it's damaged. While holding congress with Swamp Thing, the sorceress is drawn into a void to meet her dead father, John Zatara. There, he tells her that all his life, he tried to prepare her for something, or someone returning to lay their claim on magic. Basically, it's the family's birthright and something he's worried about now that he's in the afterlife and not there to aid her in person.
Zatanna discovers the original owners of magic, the Otherkind, are coming to take it back, and raze the Earth in the process via a magical repo man known as the Upside Down Man. Her father confirms magic was on loan, though he's unclear as to whether it was to be used for good in the first place.
This also leaves readers wondering if the homo magi fought back against these forces in the early days, co-opting magic against the owners' will. Hopefully we'll learn more about the history of the Otherkind and how they tied into the lore of characters such as Shazam (and with the Rock of Eternity) and Doctor Fate (along with his plethora of special artifacts). That's because at long last, we finally have access to the direct gateway for magic, and just how angry the gatekeepers are that it hasn't been used according their wishes.