You guys know I hate to admit when I’m entertained by a new 52 comic, but Jeff Lemire has pulled off that trick in the second collection of this series.
I gave up on volume one around the time the team was attacking some witch in a house filled with bees, or flies, or something. I picked up this trade at the library to see if things improved. They have. While the story picks up in the middle of some sort of vampire war that I have no clue about, things move along quickly enough that I can just ignore the whole thing. Other than I, Vampire becoming something of a reserve team member, it doesn’t seem that story really mattered much.
Things get more interesting when Constantine leads the Dark team to battle classic villain Felix Faust. Faust has a new, desiccated look that makes him pretty spooky throughout. I really dug the way the team talked about Faust as sort of a doofus, and he seems like he’s going to be a throw-away villain, but then he ends up foiling the team for the entire trade. Teaming Faust up with a few new and classic supernatural villains really gives this a big fight feel. This is the magic Justice League against the magic Legion of Doom. Faust teams up with Nick Necro (new), Blackbriar Thorn (classic), and Black Boris (new to me), along with a surprise traitor from inside the League.
The lineup is part of what makes this book work. While the Dark team was formed by ARGUS, Constantine works pretty hard to put together his own group by tying them to his own magic base of operations. Bennet (the vampire mentioned above), Frankenstein, Amethyst, and Dr. Mist all join to some level, while Black Orchid is on the team for the entire trade. They join Madame Xanadu, Zatanna, Deadman, and Constantine after Shade the Changing man bugs out and disappears. Black Orchid is a lot of fun throughout the story. Her “classic” super-powers actually work really well mixed in on a magical team. Even when people are tossing spells around, super-strength and shape-changing are pretty darn effective!
I’m not a fan of complete skullcaps on ladies’ costumes, but Mikel Janin almost pulls it off with Black Orchid’s new look. I’m more of a fan of the black and neon purple color scheme than the mast, but there is no denying the design is striking. Janin’s art often looks photo-referenced, but in a striking fashion. His Madame Xanadu and Zatanna are beautiful, and you can practically smell the cigarettes wafting from Constantine’s smug face. Janin gets to draw a lot of demons, monsters, and golems, and they all are sufficiently varied to make this feel like a well-populated corner of the Marvel U.
Since I didn’t really have an attachment to any of these Vertigo characters in the old DCU, I found myself enjoying this collection. The only characters I really know are Deadman and Zatanna, and they both are acting just as I remember. I don’t know Timothy Hunter from Harry Potter! No character conflicts for me!
This is a pretty fun collection that makes for a GOOD comic.