Categorized | Comics, Reviews

Justice League Dark, Vol. 1 In the Dark Review

Posted on February 20, 2013 by Michael Holland

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    DC Comics’ New 52 has had about a year and a half to find its footing and one of the nicer aspects of the “reboot” is DC’s revived focus on supporting the supernatural side of the DC universe. Along those lines the famed Justice League has been divvied up into numerous teams (and titles) with each focusing on different aspects of the JL’s mythos. While Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and their closest friends handle the big threats the Justice League International team stumbles about handling other… less important… threats. So who handles the ghosts and goblins of the DC universe? That would be Justice League Dark.

    Justice League Dark Vol. 1: In the Dark (issues #1-6) was written by Peter Milligan (Shade, the Changing Man, Batman, X-Men, X-Force and many more) and drawn by Mikel Janin (Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons). While Peter has a much longer resume in the comic book industry Mikel is more than a match with his very clean and detailed work. I found the pair of creators to be a good team as Mikel visually always seemed to be in perfect sync with the rising and falling action of Peter’s story and Peter was able to explore his tale making the most of Mikel’s talent. In fact, Mikel’s artistic prowess is the one consistency throughout this volume.

    Justice League Dark is the flagship for the darker, supernatural side of the DC universe. The “team,” using the word loosely, consists of Madame Xanadu, Zatana, John Constantine, Shade the Changing Man, Deadman and Mindwarp. Excluding Mindwarp, whose first appearance was in Flashpoint leading up to the birth of the New 52, most of the team will be familiar to readers of DC and Vertigo comics. There are also several appearances by other well known characters including Dove (Hawk and Dove) and the Enchantress, who plays an important role in the gathering of these “heroes.”

    John Constantine has drawn the most attention from readers thus far and for good reason. As the main character of the Hellblazer comic , the longest running and most successful title under the Vertigo imprint, John brings a lot of history to the table. Fans of Hellblazer will be happy to know John has been transported almost completely intact into the New 52 with only minor adjustments surrounding his past with Zatana and the origin of his famed trench coat. Now whether the new John lives up to the grandeur of the old John remains to be seen but I think he is off to a decent start.

    Overall, this is only a passable trade paperback because the writing does lack in a few places. The strength of this title is found in its characters and when Peter lets them lead the way the story is at its best. The relationship between Deadman and Dove is an interesting one which is complicated by the fact that Deadman is intangible. This prevents them from touching and expressing themselves physically. John Constantine and Zatana have a history although readers may pick up that it is a history Zatana would rather forget. Shade is also involved with a lost love and how that relationship manifests itself is so twisted you will just have to check it out for yourself. These relationships are the best part of this story and where readers will find the most enjoyable.

    Unfortunately at times you can feel the hand of the writer forcing the characters one way or the other and the story suffers for it. Peter Milligan has a successful history with team books so I was a little surprised at how clumsily he handled this particular gathering of heroes.

    “I had a vision that something bad would happen if we don’t form a team so let’s form a team.”

    Okay Madame Xanadu, thanks for that.

    “Sod your bloody cards!”

    You tell her John!

    This title has potential and I think the good outweighs the mediocre. Knowing Peter Milligan’s past work I believe things will come around and Justice League Dark will end up being one of the better titles in the New 52 line up.

    Rated 3 out of 5.

    Review by Michael Holland.

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