All Associated Cover/Issue Images
- Rac Shade
- You’re not Boston Brand. You don’t look dead at all.
- Oh god, I’ve landed in a mad house.
Synopsis "In The Dark Part Four: By the Light of the Moone"
Previously: June Moon has somehow become separated from the Enchantress, the witch entity which usually possesses her. This has driven the Enchantress insane causing her to lash out at other magic users. Madame Xanadu is manipulating her in the hope of drawing them together as a group, but their own damaged personalities may be their greatest threat. Zatanna has already been saved once from the Enchantress by John Constantine, but he is now tracking Rac Shade. After failing to contact Deadman Xanadu sends Shade to recruit the psychotic Mindwarp. Deadman has found June Moon, but they have now come under attack by the Enchantress.
The withered Enchantress tries to ensnare the terrified June Moone with her magic. Deadman dives into the witch intending on possessing her, but there is nothing inside her. Deadman destroys the witch body and tells June that she was just a shell, one of the legion of Enchantress and June Moone “simulacra” (mindless magical copies) sent to hunt her down. Dawn Granger (aka Dove) finds John Constantine eating cold beans in her apartment. He is looking for Deadman and warns Dove stay away from June Moone for her own safety. Elsewhere, Rac Shade’s M-vest holds Mindwarp’s seizure self, this astral body, fast in an attempt to talk him into helping Xanadu’s group. However, their conversation is disrupted by the scared fiancee of the arms dealer that Mindwarp had just killed.
Madame Xanadu see the horror unleashed across the country as the Enchantress’s poisoned magic turns infants into killers. Xanadu goes to her drugs dealer for more “medication that helps focus my vision”. The Enchantress just wants to he whole gain, but what is left of her sanity is rapidly unwinding. Zatanna finds her hideout, but her backwards spells do not work on the simulacra legion. Zatanna manages to escape and randomly appears next to Rac Shade (who had been trying to contact Deadman again). Madame Xanadu returns to her parlour and is greeted by an angry Constantine who holds her responsible for everything that has transpired.
The Enchantress’s simulacra have June Moone and Deadman cornered in a motel. The Shade’s portal appears again and Deadman recognises it as their way out. June and Deadman take each other’s hands and walk into the swirling light. However, only Deadman makes it across. For some reason June is left behind. June looks up to see a massive figure comprised of the bodies of hundreds of June Moone and Enchantress simulacra towering over her.
Justice League Dark #4 is the penultimate part of Peter Milligan’s first arc and of the team’s secret origin. There has been a slow meshing of threads through the previous three issues as the separate characters meet in pairs, then separate, meet in different pairs, and then finally converge next issue. The time spent exploring each character or pair of characters has also decreased as the pace of the intermingling increases. Its all very clever and works well when these parts are read together, but I did become impatient with the pace when I was reading the parts as monthly episodes.
If there are two characters who should not appear in the same comic book its poor sweet Dove and the foul mouthed John Constantine, it just somehow seems wrong. Nevertheless, the scene where he slaps Madame Xanadu — while ungentlemanly — is absolutely right for his character. John is a genuine s.o.b., but he more of a “hero” than most of the characters in this book. The character I have trouble accepting as damaged is Zatanna. She’s always been a rock of sanity in the DCU — her Paul Dini series was especially excellent. So I have real trouble buying her as a rock chick with a death wish.
Surveying the Internets
I personally think that the Mighty Monarch (one of the Comic Vine regulars) cut through a lot of the waffle on this issue when he wrote that:
This series is always odd to review. The writing is extremely excellent, and the artwork is creepy and unique, and the characters are deep and varied…. but the plot needs a kick start in the right direction. I WANT to praise the hell out of this, but I can’t, there are too many flaws.
Mart Gray (Too Dangerous For a Girl) opens his review by saying:
Good Lord, this is dark stuff. Of course, the clue’s in the title, but I’ve rarely seen a non-’mature’ book play with such disturbing imagery.
Minhquan Nguyen (WCCR) find the relentlessness of the imagery desensitising:
We’ve already seen decayed golem girlfriends come back to life, women getting themselves killed en masse in the street, and a guy who needs a seizure to activate his powers. Homicidal children feel pretty commonplace after all that.
Kelly Thompson (CBR) commented on the continuing improvement in Mikel Janin’s art:
Initially [in this series] the female characters had an unfortunate case of ‘same face’. However, in this issue June Moone, Enchantress, Madame Xanadu, Dove, and Zatanna all have real personality and soul pouring out of them.
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Page 5. Dawn quite categorically states that “I don’t plan on seeing him any time soon” sounding like she’s had it with Boston Brand. However, their relationship is played out both in this title and in her own Hawk and Dove title. The two versions of the relationship and the breakup don’t quite match-up. It appears each other walks away from the other’s series. Deadman calls it quits for the greater good in Hawk and Dove, while Dove has had enough of Deadman’s antics in Justice League Dark.
Deadman appears briefly in Hawk and Dove #1 (Nov 2011), but everything appears normal. He reappears in Hawk and Dove #3 (Jan 2012) to possess the President and we find out that he cannot possess an Avatar. Hawk and Dove are fighting Condor and Swan, evil war Avatars similar to themselves. Swan kidnaps Deadman in#4 and he’s freed in #5. Condor had been using him as a magical conduit, but Boston is rather inept and passive in the entire series. Really, it’s like the dude’s had a lobotomy or something. However, he is the one that breaks up with Dawn saying that too’s dangerous for her — meaning he brings too much danger into her life, i.e.,
The ordering of the Justice League Dark and Hawk and Dove appearances are ambiguous as both story-lines run the same duration. However, it appears that HD #5 is the hard and fast break-up point so we can assume that the “too dangerous” part refers to events in that series and in this one. HD #1 shipped before JLD #1 so I’m assuming Deadman’s appearances run Hawk and Dove #1, Justice League Dark #1-5, Hawk and Dove #3-5. His DC Comics Presents arc is self-contained and can happen at almost any time.
Page 10-11. This is our first look at the real Enchantress:
I don’t know if it is deliberate, but she has the same colour eyes as June Moone.
Page 12. The Enchantress called Zatanna a “poor little daddy’s girl.” Zatanna’s father was a stage magician turned adventurer called Giovanni Zatara. This would be of the first references to him in the New 52. Who Zatara was in the New 52 hasn’t been revealed.
Page 15-16. Xanadu quotes “Oh, to be in London…” as an allusion to Constantine’s arrival. She’s paraphrasing a Robert Browning poem which opens with the words “Oh, to be in England, Now that April’s there.”
Page 17. The Enchantress catches up with June Moone at the Sunset Motel, seems as good enough place as any for an ending — a place where the sun sets.