Hands down, Justice League Dark is one of the most consistently well-written and exciting things coming from DC and the New 52. Writer Peter Milligan took a property that most of us (including me) sneered at when it was announced. Within nine issues, Milligan manage to establish that, to paraphrase from Wu-Tang, Justice League Dark was nothing to ta fuck with. From issue nine through the current issue 13, writer Jeff Lemire has made sure JLD continues to surprise and entertain.
Issue 13 is smack in the middle of the war for The Books Of Magic. Anyone who possesses these books will essentially have the power to fuck things up at will. It’s one of those absolute power deals, the kind of thing that can’t fall into the wrong hands. The first set of bad hands comes from Nick Necro. Who is Nick Necro? If you asked that, then you clearly have not done your Justice League Dark homework. Necro is the ex-boyfriend of Zatanna and former mentor of John Constantine. All of this has established in JLD #0 – and for shame, you did not complete your assignment.
Necro, being a little pissed that Constantine started banging his girl, that they combined powers to send him to hell and that Constantine stole his overcoat, is back to get the Books Of Magic and make our beloved Hellblazer suffer. See, that’s the real problem, while Nick Necro is clearly on the side of evil, the good guy in our corner is Constantine, and that’s tricky since he’s such a prick.
Issue #13 has multiple battles going down. Constantine and Black Orchid is up against Black Boris, the Cannibal King Of The Fire Trolls. Deadman and Zatanna face of against a possessed forest called Blackbriar Thorn. There’s also a pair of identical interdimensional houses chasing each other and, as I said before, a battle between Constantine and Nick Necro (love that name) for ownership of the Books Of Magic.
Lemire does two things with great result here. First is his use of humor. Unlike most of the DC titles, JLD has a real biting wit to it. Part of it is Constantine, but part of it is that this series stands just outside the normal DC Universe, so Lemire has more freedom. Second, he knows how to make magic seem cool. When most of us think of magic, we think of that idiot Criss Angel or maybe Doug “A bucket is just a hole with sides in the world of illusion” Henning. Lemire makes magic seem powerful and serious, which helps when the characters are standing around tossing it at each other.
Helping make JLD #13 a success is Mikel Janin. I like his art, though I don’t know why. It doesn’t jump off the page, nor is it particularly stunning. What it is, though, is solid comic book work. Janin’s pencils lend themselves to telling Lemire’s story, nothing more, and nothing less. His panels help illustrate the book but never get in the way. There’s a lot more to focus on with regards to the magic and more creature oriented pieces, but overall, Janin is a solid laborer, a guy who doesn’t do flash but does good work that you can count on.
Justice League Dark continues to be one of the brightest spots in the new DC Universe.
(5 Story, 2.5 Art)