on October 17, 2012
The premise behind Justice League Dark is nothing new but the series itself really works thanks in part to its rich character development. Like in numerous other super team stories, a powerful existential threat to the universe forces a group of heroes with different powers and conflicting personalities to come together and fight to save the planet. In this case it's the enchantress who defeats the original Justice League and unleashes dark, supernatural forces throughout the planet. This calls for a new super team with more magical abilities. The team that ultimately comes together includes many intriguing albeit lesser known characters from the DC Universe. These include Madam Xanadu, Deadman, Zatana and John Constantine.
Peter Milligan's character development is extremely strong. I was never a diehard fan of the former Vertigo comics and I did not know that much about some of these characters when the series launched. I picked this up because it looked interesting and I have been trying to get into some of the best series in the New 52 lineup. The members of the Justice League Dark are more anti-heroes than heroes; they see their abilities as a burden rather than as a gift. Their use of magic and the occult often force them to physically harm their own bodies or live in altered states of existence. I found myself empathizing with these "anti-heroes" despite the morally ambiguous ways in which they govern themselves because the very nature of their special abilities seems to thrust them into one unenviable scenario after another.
Michael Janin's artwork is ideal for capturing Milligan's surrealistic imagination. He adds just the right effects to the ghouls, ghosts and magical realms that play a prominent role in the series. The inks and colors all give this book a great look.
Aside from the recycled nature of the book's premise, the only other weakness for me was that it unfolds at a rather slow pace. The characters drift slowly together rather than assembling swiftly (like say the Avengers). But the distinctiveness of the characters and Milligan's great handling of their interactions made this well worth reading.
on October 25, 2012
I was not expecting too much from this collection to be honest. Boy was I pleaseantly suprised! The storyline is great & well paced in my opinion. A few people have complained that it unfolded too slowly but I disagree. The time taken to tell the story enhances character development. And the art is perfect for this story. Janin has a classic style. Not too flashy, but it comes across beautifully in these pages. Overall, I would say a strong 4.5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this collection to anyone who has ever enjoyed any of these characters. I especially like the idea of Deadman & Constantine in this group. Great story, great art, great read!!! You need to check this one out!
Based on its supernaturally-fueled concept and offbeat characters, JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK was my early dark horse going into DC's New 52. I'm still not sold on DC's whole reshuffling gimmick, but I can't deny that there are some outstanding new titles out there. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK Vol. 1: IN THE DARK collects the series' first six issues. Peter Milligan writes these six issues and then two more before amscraying. Artist Mikel Janin exhibits greater lasting power. This new series threatens to be the most interesting Justice League iteration since the bwah-ha-ha League. It's certainly the edgiest.
Blame long-lived clairvoyant Madame Xanadu, and then, I guess, pat her on the head (but do that at your own risk). Madame Xanadu's meddling has deprived the Enchantress of her human half, June Moone, and without June's stabilizing presence, the Enchantress has gone bat-guano crazy. Not even the Justice League can stand up to her homicidal rage. I knew I was in good hands when I got to that incredible splash panel in which Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg can do nothing but cower under the assault of a swarm of witches' teeth. It dawns on Madame Xanadu that something different is called for, something less cape and tights. She sets out to gather a different kind of team. She may as well have recruited from a trashy daytime talk show. She ends up with the most messed-up sort of meta-people. On the other hand, the Doom Patrol's tagline of "The World's Strangest Heroes" just lost some credibility.
"Most of them are a danger to themselves. But that doesn't mean they're not a danger to others," remarks Madame Xanadu, and that's not exactly the strongest vote of confidence. The tarot-reading psychic ransacks the old Vertigo stable, enlisting to her unofficial team the groady John Constantine, the headstrong, backwards-enchanting Zatanna, the oxygen-challenged ex-acrobat Deadman, the unstable Shade the Changing Man burdened with a sentient, reality-altering Meta Vest, and one other nvtcase. Honestly, I haven't seen thrown-together personalites this disparate and dangerous since Ostrander's Suicide Squad. It makes for fascinating group dynamics, given the distaste everyone has for everyone else. But that's later on. For the first few issues, Peter Milligan teases the reader by featuring his cast mostly in their own individual arcs.
4 out of 5 stars for this one. I will say that issue #6 is a bit of a letdown in that the ongoing motivation for these hostile loners to stick together comes off as forced and contrived. Disappointingly, issue #6 also serves as a mere transitional device that points the reader towards Justice League Dark's crossover arc with its companion horror title, I, VAMPIRE (which sadly just got canceled, by the way).
Hopefully, you know better than to anticipate traditional superheroics in this title. JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, steeped in occult sensibility, reads more like SWAMP THING or NIGHT FORCE (and where's the NIGHT FORCE collected trade they'd been promising, anyway?). Mikel Janin's brooding photo-realistic art is invaluable, whether in depicting gorgeous, enigmatic women or in establishing a dark, ominous tone. The art really pops. Janin is brilliant at drawing grotesque creatures. He visualizes Xanadu's peeks into a bleak future with such foreboding clarity that you see why she's so frantic to recruit this bunch of oddballs. When everyone is finally in the same room, I love the abrasive, no-holds-barred character interplay. The promise of such combustibility and the crisp artwork are the two things that drew me in. The ensuing eldritch mayhem is just a bonus. I'm forever down with any narrative in which the characters battle inner AND outer demons.
Warner Brothers has several superhero team films slated including Suicide Squad and Justice League Dark so I decided to acquaint myself with the two properties. With Suicide Squad I went with the 2011 version by Adam Glass and I can honestly say it was pretty awful. Peter Milligan’s Justice League Dark was, by contrast, fairly enjoyable. Let me start by saying that using the name Justice League is clearly just an attempt to increase sales because they are simply a loose affiliation of mystical based heroes and at no point refer to themselves as the Justice League or show any real contact with the JLA. About the closest one can get is the inclusion of Zatanna who is an occasional member of the JLA.
This is a pretty cool team that includes Deadman, Zatanna, Madame Xanadu, Shade, the Changing Man and John Constantine. The art is very attractive (a hell of a lot better than Suicide Squad) and Milligan’s writing is clever and entertaining. I get a sense that Milligan may have been inspired by some of the writing of Alan Moore when Moore was writing Swamp Thing. This is not meant as an insult. I have accused fellow DC writer Scott Snyder of cribbing ideas from other, better writers like Alan Moore. To me it feels more like Milligan is channeling the tone of Moore rather than stealing ideas and emulating Moore is rarely a bad idea.
Here are my issues with the story. A lot of superheroes and villains have somewhat nebulous powers that seem to operate with convenience to the story but few more than magical characters. Zatanna, for example, occasionally seems to be almost omnipotent and then other times her powers just fizzle, possibly in the presence of a mystic even more powerful than herself. If you asked me what the powers were of Madame Xanadu and Shade I couldn’t tell you. The main villain, Enchantress, likewise is very sketchy in her abilities so the story often becomes just a maelstrom of magical stuff happening. And I mean that literally as in pages and pages of swirling, flying magical activity and it’s difficult if not impossible to know what’s going on. I wish Milligan would have given a bit more explanation and establish the rules under which things were operating. Mystery is cool and all but when things are just going on with no rhyme or reason it makes it hard to get invested.
This is a tough group to juggle and at times Milligan seemed to struggle. I’m sure a lot of people will disagree but when things happen with no defined rules it’s hard for the reader to get their bearings. None of this was enough to dissuade me from getting volume 2 but I think this is a series with room for improvement.
on November 28, 2012
Justice League dark is one of THE BEST psychological thrillers to come out of the New 52! It is deep, intense, gritty, gory (in a good way) and very addictive! I believe I killed Vol. 1 in about an hour! The story starts out with Madame xanadu having some very troubling premonitions that cause her to try to reach out to the magic using Anti-heros of the DC universe to "save the world." You don't really get to see her visions until much later in the story but it is well worth the wait and the story will come full circle by the end! This is how you do suspense and mystery the right way! Her ideal recruits are Zatanna the backwards sorceress/ professional magician, Deadman who has the power to "posess" bodies and be intangiblle, "shade" who wears a magic vest, Constantine the con-man/ sorcerer/ very reluctant team leader, and a Guy whose name escapes me atm but has the power to make his soul exit his body at will.
The "problem" is a very powerful witch named enchantress who can create old-testement-biblical-plague-scale mayhem with her mind and she will only be appeased when she reunites with a mysterious woman named "June Moone." The imagery is graphic, provocative, terrifying, and beautiful! It's like being a spectator in your worst nightmares! The regular Justice League tries (and fails miserably) to take out the Enchantress so they are forced to fall back. When Zatanna sees all of the Mayhem she feels compelled to try to do something since she is the only magic user currently at the JLA headquarters! She goes in alone and obviously is forced to retreat within minutes of getting to the sight Enchantress is located at. Many of the characters bump into eachother at various times throughout the progression of the story so the characters all begin to become more familiar with each other, but still refuse to work together for different reasons. Eventually they come to find that they can't win this fight alone and Madame Xanadu convinces them to work together at least this one time. Perhaps this sounds very "conventional" and "safe" but trust me, there is NOTHING conventional and Safe about justice league dark! The execution of this commonly used archetype for a story is what makes the Volume brilliant and makes this classic story a fresh one!
I wish I could tell you more about the story, but I would be giving away A LOT of juicy spoilers! The art is Inspiring, the transitions between the character's various mini-stories are flawless, and Madame Xanadu is one crafty Witch! You truly feel the sense of urgency throughout the book and there is even A LOT of intelligent dark humor to balance out the gloom that is Justice League Dark! All of the characters are interesting, multi-dimensional, and very easy to care about. You actually get taken by suprise more than once! This book will leave you with with many questions not only about the story, but about yourelf as well. What do we truly fear more, Our Shortcomings or our potential for greatness? Is there something dark and ugly inside of us that we try to repress but have trouble controlling? What does it all mean? What is our place in the universe? Sometimes is it acceptable to do a very bad thing right now if it could potentially save the future? This book is NOT a predictable one and I Love It! This 1st volume is truly a masterpiece and it is a MUST READ!!
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.
Justice League Dark has a fantastic premise. I have to admit, when I heard about this book, I became giddy. I've always loved DC's magical characters, especially those with a bit of an edge. And while I love their depictions at Vertigo, a part of me rejoiced that they were rejoining DC proper. Furthermore, by putting "Justice League" in the title, these characters would enjoy a certain level of celebrity, allowing new readers to discover their charisma. Interestingly enough, the team is comprised of three characters I hold very dear (Deadman, Zatanna, and Constantine) and three characters for whom I'm not all that invested (Shade, Enchantress, Madame Xanadu). Finally, there's a character I've never heard of (Mindwarp) which frankly surprised me because I've been reading DC off and on for the last several decades.
So as you can gather, I was fairly biased before I even opened the first volume of Justice League Dark. I wanted to like it. And, honestly, I did like it.
But it's not perfect.
The premise is a bit clichéd. The world is at risk, and only by these seven joining forces can this destruction be averted. Of course, the Enchantress is already destroying much of the earth, and so the future cataclysm seems a little unimportant. And as entire cities are dying, only the seven members of Justice League Dark seem to be doing anything. This is where the book lost me. After brief appearances by Superman, Wonder Woman, and Cyborg, the rest of the world's heroes are nowhere to be found. I thought Milligan overreached with the wholesale destruction of cities. Toddlers are killing caregivers, brunettes are killing blondes, nuclear power plants have decided to quit - it all became a bit much to the point of almost being silly. I think if Milligan had kept it tighter and more focused, perhaps concentrating upon only one locale, it would have been an easier plot to accept. And while I won't spoil anything, the end of the book fell into the horrible trap of offering one last jolt, one last horrific challenge that seems to pop up out of nowhere and disappear nearly as quickly. It reminded me of some really bad horror movies in that regard, and I didn't want the book to end on such a sour note.
However, the characters alone are enough to keep me around, and they do make an interesting mix. Would I have liked their "origin" story to have been a little more original and unique? Yes, but it was a serviceable first volume, and while I didn't love it, I also didn't hate it.
The real star of the book is artist Mikel Janin. Janin's pencils and inks are absolutely beautiful. He makes these characters look both regal and terrifying, and he blends the super hero genre with horror expertly. He's one of the few artists out there who actually knows how to draw realistic regular clothing, but he also excels at the traditional "costume." I see that Janin is still on Justice League Dark as of this writing, which is definitely a reason for me to keep keeping it. In the hands of a different artist, Justice League Dark may not have been as enjoyable an experience.
If you're into the darker side of the DC Universe and still enjoy a spot of super heroics, Justice League Dark may be the book for you. Thought the story wasn't initially superb, I see a lot of potential with these characters in particular and look forward to seeing what's in store for them, especially as rendered by Mikel Janin.
~Scott William Foley, author of Andropia
on October 18, 2014
Loved this. I wasn't sure on getting this because of the bad reviews on here but I noticed a lot comic people are unhappy with everything they read.
The story was good and the reason I wanted to start reading this was because of Deadman and Zatanna.
The magic side of heroes is awesome.
Madame Xanadu is trying to prevent the future she saw from happening because it was bad.
I like the scary old witch chasing June Moone. It was creepy.
Getting Vol. 2 :)
on March 12, 2014
When a crazy witch threatens the country and the regular Justice League can't stand up to her, Madame Xanadu forms a new team. The heavy hitters of the magical scene in the DC universe. If they can only keep from killing each other and learn to work together, they might be able to stop her.
These characters have some weird powers. It is hard to wrap your head around what they can do. It is a different kind of story than most of the mainstream DC titles.
The artwork is nicely done which is a plus.
I don't usually follow any of these characters so it was nice to see them in the spotlight but I am not sure if it was enough to make me want to follow the series.
on September 17, 2013
DC Comics initiated it's company wide restructuring of it's titles and Justice League Dark is a product of it's first wave of books.
Writer Peter Milligan told a great story that was accented by artist Mikal Janin's art.
This title also marked the returns to the regular DC universe of John Constantine and Rak Shade: The Changing Man, which I think was handled superbly given that I was a Hellblazer fan for 17 years, but I see John was used properly as was Rak (as confused as ever) Shade.
I love the strong storyline this arc and have heard that Mr.s Milligan and Janin will not be the creative team anymore, but I will try and stick around to see what John Constantine will get everyone into. Zatanna is the perfect love interest for him.