Let me start this review by saying $5 for an annual is ridiculous.
That being said, Justice League Dark Annual #1 is another check in the win column for a phenomenal series. Writer Jeff Lemire, whose work I’ve grown bored with in Animal Man, is putting out some of his best stuff in JLD. I don’t know if it’s the freedom of the New 52 Universe or simply that this is one of the better stables of DC characters, but Lemire is opening up the world of magic within the DCU in new and exciting ways.
JLD Annual #1 is the next chapter in the saga to find the Books of Magic and defeat Nick Necro. Necro, the man who trained Constantine before the latter stole Zatanna from him, is rocketing in his own mystical mansion towards Nanda Parbat to open the Books of Magic and unleash darkness on the world. In his clutches is Zatanna, the woman he thinks betrayed him, and along for the ride is Dr. Mist, a magician being manipulated by Necro. Constantine and his JLD are giving chase, holding the one ace they have up their sleeve – a boy named Timothy Hunter, the one person who can control the Books.
When Necro’s faction and the JLD meet, there is a battle that includes not only Necro zombie followers, but also Frankenstein and a new DC member, Amethyst. Lemire handles all these characters perfectly, not only giving each on their own voice, but never breaking character. It’s incredibly difficult to write a team book and not just bend the characters to act or speak the way you think they should. Just as important as the crisp dialog, Lemire’s plot and pacing are flawless. There are several layers going on in Annual #1. Necro’s ultimate plan, his revenge plot for Constantine, the Timothy Hunter angle, Constantine’s con to win the Books of Magic, the various parts played by all the supporting cast, this issue is chaotic but Lemire keeps it an organized chaos.
Mikel Janin’s art is wonderful if you can keep away from some of the faces. His thin line work is saturated in details and texture. When Necro stands before the bones of Mordru, Janin’s webbing and bone-work are impossible to ignore. I also love his use of electric bolts during battles and his ability to create real movement. When the mystical houses are flying through the ethereal plane, you can almost feel the movement. My only problem with Janin’s pencils would be his faces, which seem off and devoid of emotion.
Justice League Dark is easily one of the brightest jewels in the DC crown.
(5 Story, 4 Art)