This is the most brisk installment of the “The Dark Things” storyline yet. The penultimate chapter is filled with James Robinson’s now-trademark overabundance of caption boxes as we are narrated through the issue by Batman, Hourman, and Donna Troy (any chance for a codename?). Developments in this issue set up an all-out final installment next issue, which is well-timed. This story has had its ups and downs, some ridiculously quick resolutions (the way the constructs are dispatched in this issue) and some nice surprises (Mr. Miracle).
Robinson intelligently gives some of the highlights of this issue to members of the JSA. Dr. Mid-nite is given a chance to shine, and does so, eclipsing Batman as a field commander, at least for this issue. Dr. Fate flexes his magical muscles a bit, and Ted Grant reminds us that he’s no pushover, even when the odds are stacked against him.
Mark Bagley’s art in this issue is as solid as it has been to date in his work with Robinson. I mentioned the previous issue felt like Bagley’s highpoint. His work here is every bit as confidence-boosting, and in some spots, where inker Norm Rapmund exerts a heavier influence, I have to do a double-take, as the art seemed more like it came from the drawing board Dan Jurgens than Mark Bagley. This is especially evident when Power Girl and Supergirl battle Alan Scott. I still find some of Bagley’s layout choices to be perplexing, as some pages read across the spread, but that pattern doesn’t follow throughout the book entirely. Still, this is a good looking book, made better through the bold coloring of Allen Passalaqua.
JLA/JSA team-ups are the stuff summer comics are made of. This is the type of adventure that we hear comic writers and artists regaling us with when asked for their favorite comics or seminal influences. Granted, behind the "Justice League of Titans," this story isn’t near as (seemingly) Earth-shattering as those older, classic issues, but “The Dark Things” is a fun, energetic story that offers fans a lot of what makes the DC Universe -- and comics in general -- so fun.
With one more installment in this tale, it’s clear that Robinson is having a great time delivering a story that he hopes will be looked back upon as one of the great JLA/JSA team-ups. I’m hesitant to put this up there with the best of the best, but it is a refreshing story that spans two titles only while delivering a complete adventure.
While there were no appearances by Hawkman or Hawkgirl in this issue, the variant cover featured Hawkman, and presented quite a striking image as such. The regular cover continues to deliver the panoramic shot of the JLA and JSA in battle against the Starheart. The story is the same under either cover, and in this case, it’s a quick-moving, fun adventure.