I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to this. While I acknowledge there is something wrong with having a massive, 18-part crossover across four individual series during a big universe-wide crossover event with tons of tie-ins is going on, I’m just too stoked to care about the money-grubbing nature of the whole scheme. I already read Justice League Dark, Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, and Constantine. Hell, I review the first three of them for this very site. In addition, I’ve wanted a big crossover in the Dark books for a while now, and neither “Rise of the Vampires” nor “Rotworld” have met that criteria. So, here we are. “Forever Evil: Blight” has begun! But will this magical mayhem make for good entertainment? Well…
Welcome new series writer J. M. DeMatteis! DeMatteis writes Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger, and is well known for his work on the classic Justice League International, so this book is in good hands (If you’re interested in more of his work, he also writes Larfleeze and the upcoming Justice League 3000 series). In The Phantom Stranger, DeMatteis has given us an interesting look at the nature of Heaven and Hell, and here he does something similar. We get a very strong start, beginning with the Dark line’s poster boy, John Constantine. Waking up after the events of “Trinity War”, Constantine must take a look at the changes going on in the world, as well as a bit of a magical trip through his own psyche, and join the fight against the forces of evil.
But evil is a funny thing. It’s not just grand acts of horror, like murder or torture, but rather something inside all of us. Instead of focusing on all of the big-name characters and major events with the supervillains, we get to see how this magical new threat, Blight, is affecting everyday people. We join Constantine as he learns about malevolent shadows looming over ordinary citizens, feeding off their tiny sins and negativity, growing into something dark and terrible. Immediately after this, Constantine has to grapple with his own morality, torn between the side of him that looks out for ‘number one’ and the side of him that has genuinely come to care for his missing teammates. There’s a lot of food for thought here; a nice, much more personal look at morality, and it makes for a enjoyable, foreboding start to this storyline.
Also, Nightmare Nurse from The Phantom Stranger is here. This is an interesting new character, and I’m glad that we’ll get to see her and learn more about her in this story.
And the art: the worst part about Villains Month was a complete lack of any new Mikel Janín art. It’s a bit odd, but I’ve really come to appreciate that Janín’s artwork is pretty much synonymous with Justice League Dark. Whenever you have an issue bereft of it—like the Villains Month issues that were JLD in name only or issue #14—it just doesn’t feel quite right. Should Janín leave this book down the line, whoever takes his place has a tough act to follow. As always, characters look bold and distinct, with different builds, faces, etc. Jeremy Cox’s colors are the perfect compliment, adding a lot of depth that just makes the visuals even more impressive. And then, there’s the first appearance of Blight.
Original? No. Awesome? Very.
I got nothin’.
While it wasn’t the perfect beginning to a new storyline like the first issue of Forever Evil was, this is still a really good start. They set up the threat, introduce a couple of the key players, and the delivery is top-notch. If you’re interested, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Justice League Dark #24 is available from physical and digital retailers for $3.99 USD.