Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer


Justice League Dark vol 2 cover

Buy at Amazon: Justice League Dark Vol. 2: The Books of Magic (The New 52) (Jla (Justice League of America) (Graphic Novels))

Justice League Dark: The Books Magic is a mixed bag. Peter Milligan, the author of the first graphic novel, has a two-issue story in this one that doesn’t quite feel finished, but maybe that’s because it’s tied into the I, Vampire title as well. Maybe after I read that one I’ll feel like it’s more complete.

After that, Jeff Lemire takes over for the rest of the graphic novel, which is really long, and for the bonus price of $3.99 (at this writing) is an amazing bargain. Lemire spins a different take on the Justice League Dark, which never seemed to quite gel in the first volume of this title. The characters just didn’t balance, although Milligan had some excellent twists in that graphic novel, as noted in the review for that title.

Justice League Dark vol 2 01

John Constantine takes front and center in Lemire’s run, and the action starts off with a bang. Almost too fast, in fact, after the weird ending of the previous tale. I just wasn’t prepared for the change in venue (from an urban area to a jungle) or for the shift from Madame Xanadu as point person to Constantine. So it took me a minute to settle in, which Lemire graciously provides by backtracking on his tale.

I hadn’t really realized how many characters of a magic nature DC Comics has in its arsenal until this graphic novel. Lemire has obviously boned up on his superhero lore and chose wisely from amid the various characters and scenarios. I would never have guessed that the House of Mystery and the house of Secrets could be used as transport devices, or existed on such a metaphysical scale, but in Lemire’s hands it all seems to make sense.

Justice League Dark vol 2 02

I also enjoyed the addition of Black Orchid, who still seems as mysterious as she did in her original three-issue run in Adventure comics back in the 1970s. Neil Gaiman’s additions are still there, but Lemire has made her a part of his mystical worlds as well. Her true character and nature hasn’t manifested yet, and I don’t know that it will, but I’m enjoying her repartee with Deadman and Constantine, and she adds a great visual element to the stories. She’s in costume, like Deadman, and tends to shine in the panels where she’s shown in action.

The reinvention of Felix Faust and Nick Necro are really cool too. The backstory that reveals the relationship between Necro, Constantine, and Zatanna is great, packed with lots of emotions and more magical background.

Justice League Dark vol 2 03

Speaking of Zatanna, she continues to be an interesting part of this world, but she’s not quite evened out. Her magic is constantly rebuffed, even though she’s supposed to be pretty powerful, so I’m not convinced that Lemire has a true concept of what he wants her to be as a factor, but she’s a strong character with lots of history.

I was surprised to see the Books of Magic brought back into the storyline, and it was pretty cool to see Timothy Hunter (although revamped as well) involved in the overall plot.

Justice League Dark vol 2 04

Even with the graphic novel’s expanded length, the whole story doesn’t quite get resolved. But once Steve Trevor and ARGUS were thrown in, as well as Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., and a certain surprising princess, the ride is worth it because Lemire has a lot of things to show you. So I’m hanging out, waiting for the release of the third volume, looking forward to how things wrap up and how this new team shakes out.

Mikel Janin’s art is just stupendous. I don’t know how he handles all the rich dialogue Lemire pens for all of those characters and plot lines, but he does, and he manages it in such a way that the pages are still constructed with an eye toward art and immersion. The work he does on the troll in Slaughter Swamp and the wood creature in the forest that confronts Deadman is great, but what he does with the House of Mystery and the House of Secrets is nothing short of amazing.


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