Saturday, July 5, 2014

Review of Justice League Dark, volumes 2 & 3

Book 24. Justice League Dark, volume 2 (The Books of Magic) and 3 (The Death of Magic), graphic novel containing issues 0, 7-21, and Annual 1. Written by Jeff Lemire, with art by Ray Fawkes, Mikek Janín, and others.

These issues begin with Zatanna and John Constantine tracking down the 4 mythical Books of Magic – this has been a lifelong quest for Constantine. Steve Trevor has tasked Constantine with the job, in exchange for time in The Black Room, the US’ secret stash of magical artifacts. Along with Deadman and the mysterious Black Orchid, and a little help from Madame Xanadu, the quest is undertaken.

We learn that the “big bad” of the arc is in fact someone from Constantine’s and Zatanna’s past, which is a story told as the Issue #0 origin story. This was an example of the episode #0 being both a good story in itself, while also tying into the story being told at the time.

Lemire includes the acrobat past of Deadman in intriguing ways, which was a nice take on a character I’ve always liked. One of my “blind spots” I comics is a lack of familiarity with the “old 52” version of John Constantine. So I admit that I am not burdened by expectations for the character – but I liked the character’s attitude. 

In the second arc, the existence of magic is threatened. This is a common trope in fantasy novels, but Lemire handles it well. There is a nice segment of issues, where the character’s fundamental aspects disappear. Deadman is alive, Xanadu is aging quickly, and Constantine can no longer lie. 

Over this long run of issues, appearances are made by Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Amethyst, and Andrew Bennett from I, Vampire. I appreciate Lemire pulling in characters from all over the DC magical landscape. He also puts to good use both the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets. 

In general, I have found the “Dark Line” to be among the most consistently enjoyable books in the New 52.

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