Review by Frank Plowright
The Death of Magic opens with a tour of the House of Mystery, which really shouldn’t be taken without a guide. It’s a holding piece padding out sequences connected with the ending of The Books of Magic, and the surprise it generated. Dealing with the consequences has most of the team transferred to a dimension with a strange effect on magical powers, many mystical creatures and a supposed destiny for Tim Hunter.
Ray Fawkes joins with Jeff Lemire on the writing, although it’s not clarified whether that’s just scripting Lemire’s plots, or a deeper collaboration. Either way, this isn’t as effective as the previous book. While the clash between magic and science is natural enough too many times the easy path is taken, and Lemire is usually better than that.
Because so many different environments and creatures are used Mikel Janín again has to be adaptable and visually creative, and he’s again up to the task. In every chapter there’s a point where he tells part of the story across a spread, often twice, and the work put into these is immense, the characters viewed from distance and their surroundings fully realised. On the second longer story we see the stuff of nightmares, and even though Vicente Cifuentes is by that point finishing the artwork the effort in the design is down to Janín.
Over the title story there’s a much thunder, but it’s extremely difficult to care about anything. It’s all rather abstract. Is this epic fatigue? Over so many action/superhero comics it’s no longer enough that a person is endangered or a house, it’s so often ramped up to a planetary threat or the entirety of existence, the result being diminishing returns. A couple of neat twists occur in the title story, one revelation in particular about someone really good despite it being practically waved in our faces, but overall ‘The Death of Magic’ isn’t compelling. ‘Horror City’ features another of those threats, yet over three chapters it’s more concise and more intriguing. That’s mainly down to Lemire and Fawkes making good use of someone from the regular Justice League
This, however is almost the end for them on Justice League Dark. They take the team into the Trinity War crossover, after which J.M. DeMatteis takes over for The Rebirth of Evil.