"War of the Houses!": In Paris, Zatanna admits to John Constantine that she didn't want to meet him, and he acknowledges his appreciation that she agreed. Despite his casual and sympathetic demeanor, Zatanna is still sus
- No magic is infallible, John. And neither are we. This is on our heads.
- — Zatanna
Synopsis for "War of the Houses!"
In Paris, Zatanna admits to John Constantine that she didn't want to meet him, and he acknowledges his appreciation that she agreed. Despite his casual and sympathetic demeanor, Zatanna is still suspicious that he wishes to take control of the House of Mystery and the Justice League Dark back from her, despite being told never to come back. He had come back, though, and while he had helped them face a threat, she still believes it was to manipulate his way into a position of power on the team. Despite his professions of love for her, she knows he only loves himself. She catches herself after saying so, admitting that she knows the trouble he went to find her in Project Thaumaton. Then, she catches herself again and remembers how he betrayed all of his friends once he'd found her. Angrily, she accuses him of manipulating her again and storms off.
He shows up at her door later, and begs two minutes of her time. She agrees, despite her better judgment, and listens as he promises that he did nothing to manipulate her at their meeting earlier. If she had felt anything for him there, it came from her. He insists that he loves her, and begs her to admit that she feels the same way. Finally, she softens and leans in to accept his kiss - and then things go black for John.
He wakes within an Escher-esque nightmare, with Zatanna nowhere to be found. He worries that maybe she booted him into another dimension, but knows better. Trying to calm himself, he casts a charm to steady his experience, and gets his bearings. Though his surroundings feel familiarly like those of the House of Mystery, he knows they must not be.
He steps out of the room he was in, into a great hallway where dark beings chant of a book on a pedestal in the middle of the room. The door behind him vanishes, and he has no choice but to follow their chants to the book. On the cover, is his name, and inside are his secrets. Reading them makes him feel overwhelming guilt and humiliation. Despite that, he is compelled to keep reading. However, he resists at the last, knowing at last where he is. In doing so, he dispels the strange magic and escapes the book's draw. He is congratulated for his fortitude by a mysterious woman, who introduces herself as the House of Secrets.
Zatanna, meanwhile, wakes to find her companions in the Justice League Dark standing over her in her bedroom in the House of Mystery, despite the fact that they had all been in different places. They've all been transported there against their wills. Zatanna promises that this was not her doing. Despite her explanations, Swamp Thing attempts to leave, angrily reminding that he is tired of doing the dark's business. The House sends vines from the floor to try to keep him in place, and he mistakes it for Zatanna's magic. Again, she explains that it is not her doing, and tries to help him. Once he is free, they all are surprised to hear the congratulations of a dark man, whom Zatanna knows instinctively is the embodiment of the House of Mystery. Skeptically, Nightmare Nurse demands proof. He suggests that Deadman possess him to see the truth of his claim. After obliging, Deadman agrees that this man is the House.
The House explains that it has come to help them prevent a dark future - a future of death and destruction for humanity that will be wrought by his sister, the House of Secrets. He claims that they owe him the help he requests, given all the shelter he's given them - not to mention owing it to the humans they swore to protect.
John, meanwhile, sees that the House of Secrets is starting a war. She responds that the House of Mystery is deceptive, and has been manipulating his residents. She claims that he intends to insert his consciousness into every house and every mind on earth. The entire planet will be a House of Mystery. To prove her words, she offers John the Blade of Ma'at; the Egyptian goddess of truth. He thrusts it into her chest, knowing that no one can deceive the Blade of Ma'at. She must be telling the truth. With her story proved true, she admits that she has been raising an army, and calls to them. Suddenly, Frankenstein, Andrew Bennett, Black Orchid, and Madame Xanadu appear in the room - unsure of why or how. Though they are initially suspicious, the House of Secrets soon convinces them all that they are needed to subdue Zatanna's team and convince them that the House of Mystery is manipulating them. Despite John's reports that she survived the Blade of Ma'at, Madame Xanadu is still suspicious, offering cautious acquiescence.
Soon, the House of Secrets approaches the House of Mystery, and Madame Xanadu wonders aloud whether John is hoping to save the world - or just Zatanna? John refuses to answer, instead casting a binding spell to keep the House of Mystery from escaping. As John and his team crash into the House, Zatanna realizes quickly that it is too late to try to talk John out of whatever he believes. John tries to tell her that everything the House of Mystery told her was a lie, but she believes he's simply trying to manipulate her. Suddenly, though, they all begin to feel sick, and a gaping hole opens beneath them, and they all collapse into it.
As they fall, they see that the Houses of Mystery and Secrets were in alliance. They had both manipulated John and Zatanna. They witness the two houses uniting into a new house: the House of Wonders. The Houses had used the power of the cumulative Justice League Dark to make this happen, feeding especially on the love between John and Zatanna. Without it, the merger could not have been possible. Soon, as the House of Secrets had warned, the House of Wonders will control all of the houses and minds on the planet earth. Every home absorbs the essence of the lives of its inhabitants. Each house will therefore become another room within the House of Wonders.
Hearing this, Madame Xanadu explains that the only way to cut off the magic that created the House of Wonders would be for John and Zatanna to cut out the love that powered it. They would need to use the K'am'deva curse to erase every trace of their love, as though it never existed. The true curse, though, is that only one of them will have the memory erased. The other will remember it forever. Andrew Bennett comments that while life is fleeting, love is eternal. And while this is a grave decision, Frankenstein warns that it must be made quickly. They won't be able to do it at all if the Houses notice, though, which means they will need a distraction.
Though he is weak, the Swamp Thing digs into the wood of the House, and attacks it from the inside out. Deadman does the same with his ectoplasmic energy, possessing the House. With the distraction in full swing, Xanadu insists that they perform the curse now. Sadly, John takes Zatanna in his arms, and they try to decide who will remember. After a wordless exchange, they know who it will be, and with a tear running down her face, Zatanna says goodbye to John, and the spell is cast. Zatanna thrusts her fist into John's chest, and tears out his heart. With that, the House of Wonders is blown apart, and the Justice League Dark is sucked into its vortex.
John, meanwhile, was sent back to Earth. As he recovers, he thinks to himself that Zatanna will do a better job of leading the Justice League Dark than he ever could - admitting that he had never really fancied her. He wipes away a stray tear from his cheek, and reacts with confusion as he reaffirms that Zatanna is just not his type. But she will always remember the truth.
Appearing in "War of the Houses!"
- House of Mystery
- House of Secrets
- Blade of Ma'at
- Story Continues in Justice League Dark #35
- Cover gallery for the Justice League Dark Annual series
- Images from Justice League Dark Annual Vol 1 2