An island of awesome in a sea of suck.
Published By: DC Comics
Created By: Peter Milligan & Mikel Janin
Writers: Peter Milligan, Jeff Lemire, Ray Fawkes, J.M DeMatteis
Artist: Mikel Janin
Published: November 2011 to Present
Schedule: Ongoing Monthly
Cover to Issue #1:
In the unending wave of mediocre and downright horrible books that were and are still part of the New 52 lineup, there were several that hit a chord with me. The gap of good quality DC books compared to Marvel is starting to turn into the Grand Canyon. The Lantern books were always my favorite mostly because they retained their creators thereby retaining quality in writing as well as art. Red Lanterns was a personal fave. Aquaman was easily my favorite book of the New 52 when it first came out. The art was insanely good and the story finally made me care about Arthur Curry. I gave plenty of books a chance. Several bombed and others I kept reading out of nostalgia and a strong hope that it would get better. Teen Titans was one and although Brett Booth’s art kept me hooked, sadly, the story did not. Catwoman, Suicide Squad, the first few issues of Deathstroke, and the sleeper hit Justice League Dark were a few of the ones that I enjoyed.
Out of all those, JLD is, in my humble opinion, the most consistently good book of the entire lineup of New 52 titles for the whole first year and beyond. It has stayed true to its initial feeling all the while being 100% original and still shaking up the status quo for the characters and the readers on a regular basis.
If you’ve never read it and you don’t want to fork over the cash to get all the back issues I’ll provide a quick synopsis of the entire run but I highly encourage reading the series and immersing yourself in the magical corner of DC. In it, we follow a team consisting of John Constantine, Zatana, Deadman, and Shade the Changing Man all assembled by Madame Xanadu to combat a variety of magic-based evils and ills that plague the world. Before they do that though, they need to stop fighting amongst themselves and learn to cooperate. The team takes in several additions such as Swamp Thing, Frankenstein, newcomer Black Orchid, Doctor Mist, Mindwarp and team up with many more . They’ve fought everyone from Felix Faust to Blight to the Enchantress and teamed up with angels, demons, and even God himself. It isn’t nailed down to reality and rarely delves into real world magical myths. Instead, series creator Peter Milligan opts to craft his own magical history for the DC Universe, establishing an extremely rich legacy for the heroes and villains. With talent like Milligan, Jeff Lemire and J.M DeMatteis, you can’t go wrong.
The art was initially the only reason I even picked up Dark since the only magic-based characters I ever really cared about was the Shazam family. It’s gorgeous, emotional, and kinetic. Mikel Janin is an amazing artist. He expertly communicates feelings and thoughts and emotions on the page and a reader could easily follow the story thru the art. The girls are all ridiculously attractive and the guys are all Calvin Klein models. Swamp Thing has never looked more intimidating. Deadman has never looked creepier. Zatana has never looked so appealing with that many clothes on at once. She actually wears pants in this. She’s tough as all hell too. Constantine is the best badass/antihero/conman/playboy type character since Sawyer from Lost. Most of the character subplots, small moments, and individual development happens thru the pencils, inks, and colors so the main story doesn’t suffer from long, drawn-out monologues and hundreds of caption boxes or entire issues devoted to feelings, love notes, or puppies. It’s literally like reading a painting with word balloons. I had to do research just to be sure of the process they go thru to illustrate Justice League Dark. His art is just that detailed it resembles painted books like Kingdom Come.
The artwork has been consistently good and that’s mostly due to the idea of keeping a fantastic team of creators…wait for it…that’s right…TOGETHER! Pick up an issue of most New 52 titles and the art ranges from mediocre to utterly horrendous. I mean, I’ve seen books that look like they were drawn by Rob Liefeld’s, understudy’s intern. Some of these books look awful and they switch up mediocre pencilers on a monthly basis. Justice League Dark is the crown jewel in DC’s The New 52 stable due, in my opinion, to the simple rule of consistently cranking out creative, original stories with exceptional art and maintaining that for an extended period of time.
I highly recommend Justice League Dark. Whether you already love the magical crew of DC or you just like gazing at some of the best looking funny books on the market, this book is a must-have. Justice League Dark outshines nearly all the New 52 titles just based on sheer consistency alone. A rare commodity in today’s hectic comic book reality.
Look at the above picture. C’mon man! Beautiful.