"The Amber of the Moment, Part One: Long before Yesterday": The Justice League Dark invoked a dangerous curse to destroy the House of Wonders, but in the process, John Constantine was consumed by the curse, tearing a ho
Synopsis for "The Amber of the Moment, Part One: Long before Yesterday"
The Justice League Dark invoked a dangerous curse to destroy the House of Wonders, but in the process, John Constantine was consumed by the curse, tearing a hole though space and time that pulled the others through.
Zatanna hadn't expected that at all, but now she is faced with the results of her mistakes. Separated from her companions, she finds herself in a strangely dreamlike landscape, under attack by a familiar, but nightmarish beast. The monster warns that they had a treaty that has been broken, and now it comes to claim its recompense by eating her. From nearby, a saviour comes, in the form of her own father, Giovanni Zatara - young and alive again. He gathers her up in his arms and carries her away on a magic carpet, noting the fever she is suffering from and promising to get her back to the House. Sighing, Zatanna takes comfort in the sound of her father's voice, before reminding herself that it must be a trap - beautiful though it may be. Giovanni Zatara is long dead, after all. Despite her protests, she falls asleep in a bed he provides her.
She wakes, suddenly aware that if she was dreaming before, she's still in that dream, but she certainly feels better, which leads her to believe that this is all no dream. Could this be another universe or dimension? As she wanders down the stairs in confusion, Zatara calls her into the kitchen to share breakfast with his family. With a start, Zatanna recognizes the woman at the table as her mother Sindella, and the child seated next to her as herself. As he serves her an omelet, her father explains that they all felt the same disorientation and fever when they first arrived in this place, which he believes is in fact six billion years back - at least a billion years before science predicted the birth of the planet Earth. He and his family had found themselves there after having first been in the year 1992.
After being introduced to the family, Zatanna awkwardly introduces herself as "Dorothy", excusing herself suddenly. Her father follows and agrees to answer her questions, as he had promised, in exchange for information about her. Despite her feelings, Zatanna worries that she shouldn't trust him. He takes her across this landscape on his magic carpet, explaining that he'd spent years researching a time before time even existed. The earth was once permeated by a pure kind of magic that would infuse magicians with incalculable power. Spells were unnecessary, as thought itself would manifest as reality. He had eventually found a doorway through time, but he wanted to bring his family with him, unaware that once he did, he wouldn't be able to find a way for them all to come back. After trying to live in a hundred different worlds, they eventually settled on a simple life in their cottage, realizing that the magic they had travelled billions of years to find had been hiding behind each others' eyes the whole time. He can't be sure how long they've been there, as they never age.
Zatanna senses the truth of his story, but still, she doubts it. If her family had truly gone back in time in 1992, why couldn't she remember it now? She wonders if maybe her father had erased the memory to protect her from the pain of losing the place. Perhaps she had suppressed her own memories of it, admitting to herself that she had suppressed many memories that reminded her of her mother when she'd died in 1993. Whatever the truth, she realizes with sadness that she doesn't belong here with them.
She decides to begin searching for the others of her team, wondering if they were also trapped by the vortex. Just when she thought to give up, she encounters all eight of them - including John. Cheerfully, they welcome her back to their ranks, explaining that they had a tough time of it as well. Happily, John brushes off her concern about his apparent death, and kisses her, at which point she realizes that this must also be an illusion, conjured by her own thoughts and desires. Sadly, she returns to the cottage, where she finds her father sitting sadly on his front step. She asks him to confirm her suspicion that he never did bring his wife and daughter with him back to this place. He had simply conjured them from his own desires. He admits that he knows well enough who she is, ever since he laid eyes on her. And perhaps now that he's here, he won't need the illusions.
Unfortunately, the pair are attacked suddenly by the creature from before, who has returned with reinforcements. He explains that the mome-raths were there when he arrived. He brokered a treaty with them, promising to stay out of their territory, but she broke it when she landed in the middle of it. He believes that they never intended to honour the treaty - it was only their fear of sorcery that kept them from breaking it themselves. Now, they seem not to mind, but they now have two sorcerers to contend with. As she and her father begin fighting the monsters, Zatanna has a brief flash of memory to her childhood, when she had dreamed of fighting monsters in exactly that way.
Even as the monsters flee from them, Zatanna realizes with a feeling of emptiness that everything since she arrived was conjured from her own memories. The mome-raths are a creation from the poem Jabberwocky, which her mother had read to her as a girl. When she admits her suspicion to him, her father embraces her, explaining with a tear in his eye that now that he knows what he is, he can't stay with her anymore. She can't dare to let a dream keep her in this place. It's more important to him that she find her way home. He begs her not to cry as he disappears. Soon, the whole world in which she'd been fades into the vortex, until nothing but the vortex and Zatanna remain.
Elsewhen, the remainder of the Justice League Dark is unsure of where they are, but wherever it is, they've reached the end of it.
Appearing in "The Amber of the Moment, Part One: Long before Yesterday"
- Giovanni Zatara (From 1992; an illusion)
- Sindella Zatara (From 1992; an illusion)
- Zatanna Zatara (From 1992; an illusion)
- Mome-raths (As an illusion only)
- Justice League Dark
- This issue takes place after Justice League Dark Annual #2.
- Guillem March is erroneously credited as cover artist.
- Given the information in this issue, Zatanna is 27 years old as of 2014.
- The title of this story arc comes from a quote by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., culled from his book Slaughterhouse-Five.