Somehow, Ray Fawkes and Jeff Lemire have turned Justice League Dark into one of the most entertaining books in the New 52. A bunch of the credit goes to the character shuffling that has put the lineup into a pretty good situation. As of trade #3, the team consists of awful team leader John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Zatana, Deadman, Black Orchid, and Frankenstein.
Frankenstein is definitely my favorite of the bunch. His stoic attitude and head-on approach makes him a great contrast in a book focusing on unclearly powered magic characters. What exactly does Constantine do? What are the limits of Zatana’s spells? I couldn’t tell you. But I can tell you that when a demon or monster shows up, Frankenstein will say something cool and chop its head off! That’s my kind of hero.
The first half of the collection has the team joining Tim Hunter in traveling to an odd world where magic is outlawed and science rules all. The villains aren’t very memorable on their own, but the well-realized nature of the world makes the story more interesting than it has a right to be. I found myself invested in the team as they were captured and experimented on by the science-dominated antagonists. I don’t know Tim Hunter from Adam, so that helps too. I have few if any pre-conceived notions about these characters from the old DCU continuity.
The second story focuses on the theft of the House of Mystery, Constantine’s home and the HQ for the Justice League Dark. We get some new 52 carnage as the world of magic goes insane, but I’m getting better as breezing over that stuff. The best part of this story, once again, is Frankenstein. He seems to really enjoy his work smashing monsters. The Flash guest-stars in this arc too, and he does fit in remarkably well. Barry gets a few caption boxes, and his sense of belonging with the JLD is a pretty great idea. I also like the weighty sense of responsibility that Madame Xanadu has to carry through her entire existence. Being an immortal really does seem pretty tough!
Mikel Janin and Graham Nolan continue to deliver a consistent look for the JLD. Flash’s bright colors and sleek look fits right in to the established tone of the book. Black Orchid and Amethyst are both nice additions (although Amethyst disappears pretty quickly); they both have “generic super-hero” looks about them. Really, with Frankenstein, Amethyst, and Orchid, this almost feels like the much-missed Shadowpact title I liked so much.
Superheroes fighting magic. This GOOD comic keeps the concept humming.