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26 of 52: Justice League Dark #1

by on September 29, 2011

I do not remember owning a comic book with a worse title than Justice League Dark. I mean are these characters actually going to call themselves, Justice League Dark? And believe me, I have a hard time putting John Constantine on any group with the word “Justice” in the title. Don’t get me wrong, I think John Constantine is one of the greatest characters created by DC, but come on now.

Naming conventions aside, the comic looked interesting especially when written by Peter Milligan, who is the current writer of the John Constantine, Hellblazer and the former writer of the Vertigo series Shade: The Changing Man. And having group of ‘heroes’ who tackle that side of the DC Universe is a concept that has been tried before, but seldom really given a good push.

Is this a good push. Not sure yet.

Justice League Dark: Imaginary Women
Writer: Peter Milligan | Artist: Mikel Janin

The main characters of this team book are: Madame Xanadu (oracular sorceress), Deadman (discussed in DC Comics Presents #1), Zatanna (sorceress who speaks spells backwards), Shade the Changing Man (wearer of the M-Vest which can shape reality), and John Constantine (con-man magus).

The villain of the book is The Enchantress, who is a woman, June Moore who lives with the knowledge that a powerful sorceress lives within her.

Synopsis

  • Madame Xanadu prepares for the gathering of magical forces for a time of terrible danger.
  • The Enchantress has gone mad, and is casting spells in her maddened form. One spell makes multiple versions of her alter ego June Moore, other create magical havoc around the world.
  • Shade is talking to his girlfriend, Kathy, when his M-Vest goes crazy; she begs him to stay before the M-Vest unmakes her, as she is revealed to be a copy that Shade created.
  • Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg confront The Enchantress on the farm where she resides, but they are thwarted.
  • Zatanna is reviewing the situation with Batman, but realizes that she is better equipped to handle it and leaves to go off on her own.
  • Constantine is swept up in a magical vortex that gives him a vision of Zatanna.
  • June Moore visits the apartment of Dawn Granger (Dove) looking for Deadman.
  • Shade confronts Madame Xanadu who called him, and she tells him to gather the heroes, due to a vision she sees of the future.

Questions and Answers

  1. Belle Reve does exist in this version of the DCnU, and seems to be where superpowered villains are kept.
  2. Did Shade’s girlfriend, Kathy, exist in this new DCnU reality or did he make her up from the beginning?
  3. Zatanna and Batman know each other. Was Zatanna a member of the Justice League?

Analysis

The comic was pretty good, but I’m just not feeling it myself. To me this was a pilot episode of a series that may very well get better over time, but you got to establish a threat that brings the heroes together. So the 22 pages were spent establishing that, rather than getting a feel for the new characters themselves.

Madame Xanadu seemed rather useless in this series, as a simple seeress who is going to send Shade out to do her the dirty work.

I guess I like the use of Enchantress as the villain of the story, and bringing back June Moore is an interesting enough development. I would almost bank on Enchantress being a member of the ‘team’ after the initial story arc is completed.

I don’t really see the point in having Madame Xanadu, John Constantine, and Zatanna on the same team. They all have magical powers, so what different role are they going to play?

Shade is a personal favorite of Peter Milligan’s and is certainly been under used in the recent DC Universe, but to pull in a character directly from his Vertigo series, and to use him in a DCnU title is pretty risky. I’m not sure anyone likes Shade enough to enjoy his inclusion.

Okay, John Constantine is probably THE most popular character of the book, if only judging by the fact that he stars in a comic book that has been published continuously since 1988, and yet he is given one page out of twenty-two?

A Universe where Superman can be thwarted by magic beings certainly makes him more vulnerable; however, when would the Justice League go into a situation without the proper backup. There must be some spell caster who can help. You’re just going to throw Superman, Cyborg, and Wonder Woman at the problem?

I really don’t get the smile on Batman’s face on Page 14 (of the digital comic book). Seemed very out of place.

The artwork was really good in some places, but very curious in others.

This book didn’t really do enough to pull me in. Maybe my expectations were too high to begin with, but I’m not sure. It has potential, but I think if it ever reaches its potential, I’m more likely to catch it in a collected version.

Verdicts

Missed its mark with me. I enjoyed it enough, and I wouldn’t mind picking it up again, but the issue didn’t do enough to make me want to read next month. If I want Constantine, I’ll read Milligan’s Hellblazer.

C-

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From → Comic Books, DCnU

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