Justice League Dark was a fantastic new addition to the Justice League franchise, thrown into the mix as DC went fist first into their big 2011 “The New 52” relaunch shake-up.
Officially, the Justice League Dark is a branch of the Justice League dedicated to dealing with mystical and supernatural threats. Its founding members include Deadman, John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Shade the Changing Man and Zatanna – in other words featuring a lot of characters who previously only appeared in the sister DC/Vertigo Universe!
2012 saw the release of Justice League Dark Annual #1, which continued the story being told in #13 of the main series, basically seeing the the Leaguers finish their quest for the Books of Magic. Written by Jeff Lemire with art by Mikel Janin, artist Ryan Sook was approached to produce this fantastic piece of cover art to wrap it all up in.
Another excellent title in the big New 52 DC relaunch effort is without a doubt Justice League Dark, which throws together DC’s more fringe, occult characters whom you would normally find restricted to the Vertigo line, and thrusts them firmly into the mainstream spotlight.
Issue 5 entitled “There was a Crooked Man” is the finale of the opening salvo that was “In the Dark”, penned by the always twisted and enjoyable Peter Milligan, featuring a stunning cover of the team in action by Ryan Sook.
Madame Xanadu is responsible for separating the Enchantress from June Moone, thereby unleashed a terrifying and uncontrollable witch who seeks to be reunited with her host but who may just tear down all of reality in the process. Xanadu has brought together the likes of Deadman, Zatanna, and Shade the Changing Man to try and confront and stop the Enchantress directly, but in the end it may just be left up to the always unpredictable John Constantine who has to make the hard decisions and end this for everybody.
A fantastically dark and twisted tale as expected, plenty of mystical and physical action seeing as this is the finale and a good ending to the first big story arc.
The real star of the show however is without a doubt artist Mikel Janin, who together with colourist Ulises Arreola produce some of the most fantastic and well suited artwork for this type of book. Janin’s characters, expressions and proportions are just fantastic, and combined with his brilliantly clever panel layouts makes for a superb looking book.
Very enjoyable and well worth picking up, though be warned you do need to enjoy the darker side of comics to get the most out of this title, as it definitely isn’t your run of the mill super hero tale!
We’re well into the first big Justice League International story arc now, and issue 5, entitled “The Signal Masters” comes to us courtesy of Dan Jurgens behind the keyboard, and penciller Aaron Lopresti and inker Matt Ryan on the visuals.
Peraxxus is well on his way to ripping apart the Earth as his planetary dismantling mining operation continues full pace, and with the Justice League International group already put in their place once through the alien and his giants’ awesome power, they’re very much in need of a regroup and a plan of action – fast!
Dan crafts an excellent story here with a unexpected Trojan horse twist as the League are forced to put aside their differences, come up with a plan and then work together to execute it. It still feels strange to have Booster Gold of all people in the front and center as the team leader, particularly because Batman now basically takes a step back and waits for his orders, but once you’re over that, this is a really enjoyable, action-packed yarn that sees Godiva, Rocket Red, August General in Iron, Booster Gold, Batman, Ice, Fire and Guy Gardner put through their respective paces, especially Godiva who questions her very role in this super powered group.
Aaron Lopresti and Matt Ryan work well to produce some solid, detailed visuals, which are perhaps not particularly exciting, but certainly more than enjoyable enough and which are well suited to a super hero title.
So certainly not a bad read, and a good end to the first big story arc!
Leading the charge of DC’s huge universe overall, dubbed “The New 52!”, was Justice League #1, written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Jim Lee and inked by Scott Williams.
Seeing as this is the relaunch of the line, Geoff gets to build a brand new origin story for the League, and he starts off with gusto, as we’re thrown right into the mix of Batman being chased by military helicopters, who in turn is chasing a parademon across the rooftops of Gotham. Star City’s Green Lantern intervenes, and in the ensuing confusion, the parademon escapes, forcing Green Lantern and Batman to track it down before it can do any more damage.
With the retrieval of a Motherbox, Batman and Green Lantern head to Metropolis in the hope that the resident alien there might be able to shed some light on their new mystery… though its not like this particular alien likes to be told what to do!
Geoff weaves a great introduction story, and he creates some particularly witty and enjoyable banter between Batman and Green Lantern, capturing their personalities perfectly. The tale flows well and the setup for the final page leaves you wanting more, always the hallmark of a well written issue.
Jim Lee can hardly ever do wrong with the pencil, and once again he and Scott Williams produce some fantastic, detailed and dynamic layouts and sequences, making Justice League #1 a proper superhero visual treat.
Well worth picking up in other words.