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Review – Justice League Dark #20 (DC Comics)

Justice League Dark #20 (DC Comics) variant cover (detail) by Clayton Crain
Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10
  • Writing - 7.5/10
    7.5/10
  • Art - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Overall - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
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Justice League Dark #20

Writers: Ram V & James Tynion IV
Artist: Kyle Hotz
Colorist: FCO Plascencia 
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Maturity Rating: Teen+
Release Date: February 26, 2020

The Justice League Dark is in trouble; even though the Floronic Man is locked away he is still causing devastation as the Parliament is tearing itself apart.

 

“Conquer or Die” Justice League Dark #20

Oh, me! I haven’t been on the Justice League Dark train in quite some time. The last issue I reviewed was issue #7 more than a year ago. I have vaguely kept up with the series. The art in Justice League Dark #20 is what got me back on board and with the start of a new story arc, “The Parliaments of Life Part 1”, it was enough for me to get back on track with this series. It seems the Justice League Dark, at some point in time, captured the Floronic Man, but even locked away he is causing chaos. Things are erupting throughout cities all over as the Parliaments are at war. Something is messing with the magic of these Parliaments and it is up to the Justice League Dark to figure it out.

Writing

Justice League Dark #20 (DC Comics) main cover by Guillem March
Justice League Dark #20 (DC Comics) main cover by Guillem March

So, the whole Parliament thing in the DC Universe has never been my strong point. The Parliaments of trees, flowers, the rot, the red, the green, have all never been my cup of tea. But Ram V and James Tynion IV do make it a very interesting enemy for the team in Justice League Dark #20. I wish maybe it was explained a tad bit more, giving me a bit of a better foothold on the story and a little more investment into it.

I do like that they took away the strongest character to deal with this in Swamp Thing. Not having him around does ratchet up the intensity of the issue. Also having John Constantine in the mix brings all sorts of different ideas on how this might be solved. You never know what he has up his sleeve, and Ram V and Tynion play with that character well. 

I love the franticness of Justice League Dark #20; the team is caught off guard and you can feel it in the story and dialogue as they scramble to figure out what is going on. This is a worldwide catastrophe, but it also feels very singular and character-driven as well. I liked the story a lot; I just feel like I am missing a tiny connection to make it great.

Art

As noted at the beginning, the art of Kyle Hotz is what drew me into Justice League Dark #20. From the first page, I got that “ooh, now, this is different” type feeling. It is one of those styles that you do not see often in superhero-type books. Hotz has that realistic, thick-lined, EC Horror vibe styling, in the vein of Bernie Wrightson, Kelly Jones and the likes of them. He gives everything almost that grossly too-textured look to it. Hotz’s style fits perfectly with the story in Justice League Dark #20 and brings it to another level.

This series has always flourished for me when it had a strong horror bent to it, and Hotz brings that in tenfold. Even just visually, looking at the art, you immediately get this unsettling feeling in your stomach. It brings a wonderful sense of dread to the issue. I love his use of shadows throughout Justice League Dark #20. The way he covers up certain characters and only show parts of their faces adds a ton to the story.

I love how his John Constantine looks. Just this mysterious, dirty, almost sinister vibe. Seriously, Hotz could draw Constantine all day, every day, and I would be happy!

FCO Plascencia also has to be given a lot of credit for his coloring work on Justice League Dark #20. The wrong colorist can really mess up such a hard-lined style like Hotz’s. Plascencia plays with the light and darkness so well. He adds a lot to the issue with that darker color palette that fits perfectly with Hotz’s style.

Conclusion

If you have fallen off of this series then Justice League Dark #20 is a nice place to jump back on. The whole Parliament thing is not my favorite thing in DC comics; if you are not familiar with it then start Google searching. Other than that, I did enjoy the story in this issue, and it made me at least want to finish the rest of this story arc with its strong horror vibe. The art is the real show-stopper here. Kyle Hotz and FCO Placencia do some incredible work in this issue and you really shouldn’t miss out on it.


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About the author

Brent Jackson

Brent is happily married and an avid comic book consumer who loves nothing more than the smell of comics in the morning and diving through a long box of back issues. By day he is a nutritionist and has also been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 10 years. He is probably not the coolest person you have ever met. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @brentjackson30

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