JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: INTO THE DARKNESS by Peter Milligan, Ryan Sook, and Mikel Janin
Justice League Dark: Into the Darkness has got to be one of the creepiest graphic novels I’ve ever read that was a superhero title. When I learned that DC Comics was going to reboot their lineup into the New 52, I had a lot of reservations. I guess any longtime fan did.
But when I read that Justice League Dark was going to feature the supernatural heroes of the DCU, I was pretty happy. Especially with a lineup that showcased Madame Xanadu, John Constantine, Deadman (a perennial favorite of mine no matter who was writing him or what weird thing they were putting him through), and Zatanna. I wasn’t too up on Shade, the Changing Man and hadn’t heard of Mindwarp at all.
I love the whole mysterious nature of Madame Xanadu, as well as the visual stimulus of the Tarot cards she spins out. There’s just something about a witchy woman that brings out the curious in me. She doesn’t quite step out of the darkness and take command of things as much as I wanted her too in this graphic novel, but I enjoy her character.
Zatanna was a surprise in many ways. On the on hand, she’s one of the most stylistic and sexily dressed in all of the DCU, and Ryan Sook and Mikel Janin obviously loved drawing her. There’s a lot of untapped potential in Zatanna, with the missing father figure, her relationship with Constantine, and her superhero tendencies. The scene with Batman was pretty good, but it felt a little off because Batman was too easily taken. And I keep pinging on the old Justice League cartoon where Batman sang while Zatanna watched.
Shade has a neat story and a very compelling one, but not enough of how he got into the M-Vest is revealed for me to completely understand his character. Although the stuff he does LOOKS like magic, I gather that it’s more technology than anything else. So I’m not exactly sure what he’s doing in the book.
The menace in this first book is kind of murky. Supposedly it wraps around a girl named June Moone, who has a bunch of simulacrums of her killing people and being killed evidently all around the world. Even after reading the book, I’m not quite sure what was going on with that. Or how the Enchantress figured into all of it. That was disappointing.
But the character arcs were wonderful. I knew Deadman and Dove had gotten together as a result of Brightest Day, but I didn’t know what that relationship was going to turn into. The resolution of that is really cool, in a heartbreaking way, and also in a lot of “ewwww,” he didn’t just suggest that. Twice. In different bodies with different genders. Admittedly, that was interesting on a level and something I’d never considered Boston Brand could do, but … well, it’s disturbing. And, again, I’m not quite sure where Deadman and Dove left everything. In Brightest Day the relationship was supposed to be really strong, but it melted rather quickly in these pages.
The art in the book is fantastic, charged and imaginative, and it must have been difficult for Sook and Janin to draw everything into those panels. The magical effects must have taken forever, but I really enjoyed the result.
Overall, I enjoyed the read, but I’m not sure where we’re heading with the series. I picked up the second book because it’s currently specially priced, but I was curious enough to buy it anyway to see what happened next. And that’s all series books are supposed to do.