“Forever Evil: Blight” is about to swing into full motion. Next month, Constantine, Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger, and Trinity of Sin: Pandora are all set to join Justice League Dark in the shadowy revelry. Now it’s JLD’s turn to create that jumping-on point for the rest of them. So, have the troops been successfully rallied? The Good: Swamp Thing joins the team in this issue, and he really is the star of the book. One thing writers have done very well in the New 52 is show just how powerful Swamp Thing is. J.M. DeMatteis seems to be basing his idea of what Swamp Thing can be on how Scott Snyder portrayed his powers in his run on Swamp Thing, which is essentially limitless. Swampy manipulates himself and plant life in masterful and creative ways, and he’s even referred to in the book as the “Green God”, which is also pretty close to how Charles Soule tries to portray the character in his current Swamp Thing run, constantly emphasizing how Swamp Thing’s limits are all in his mind. In a rare moment for comic books, the scene on the cover, which features Swamp Thing expanding his body into a sea of plant life to try and drown Constantine, actually happens in the book, and it is very impressive.
I think I’m going to yell that to the next person I hug.
Another interesting aspect of the writing is that there’s a distinct humorous element to it that actually came unexpected. Between his famous Justice League International run with Keith Giffen and his current Larfleeze comic (also with Keith Giffen), J.M. DeMatteis is certainly no stranger to comedy, but it’s still a bit surprising to see it show up here, given what a dark story this is. It certainly helps that John Constantine is a naturally humorous character in his own right, so his presence, snark, and how people react to it lead to a lot of naturally occurring comedic moments that don’t shatter the overall dark tone of the story. Not exactly the classic JLI’s comedic dysfunctional family, but still fun to read.
The only thing more fun than watching Constantine shut down somebody is watching Constantine get shut down.
The stakes are very high. In one issue, we see the kind of insane, self-harming measures Constantine must go through to build up magical power, just how strong and terrible Blight is, and other threats rising. Within this crossover, we meet Blight and see powerful mystics being kidnapped by demons (in this case, a rebooted version of the Phantom Stranger’s love interest, Cassandra Craft), all of which are likely related phenomena. There’s a lot going on here, and the sense of danger is very real.
I guess Cassandra being blind means she doesn’t care who sees her bra? Yeah, let’s just go with that.
As always, the art is phenomenal. Mikel Janín’s pencils are just as wonderful as ever, with each character having a distinct looks and the book as a whole having a nice fantasy feel, which is also thanks to Vicente Cifuentes and Guillermo Ortego’s inks and Jeremy Cox’s colors. However, Janín is also credited as the “Graytone Artist”, which I’m assuming is referring to how the villain Blight looks. Put simply, Blight is incredible. A big, imposing, shadowy serpent made of evil, represented as dark swirls and lightings, like a terrible beast made of storm clouds. However Janín created Blight — whether it’s pencils and digital effects, painted, or whatever — it looks masterful.
All I know for sure is that he doesn’t look like he belongs among everything else, and it works.
The Bad: There’s really only one bothersome thing in the book, and it’s incredibly small and petty, but here it goes. At the end of the book, the Question shows up. Part of him has been colored wrong. It’s really not much, but his head looks like there’s a hood over it. There’s no mask there, he just doesn’t have a face. It should be the same color as his flesh. It’s not a big thing, and it certainly doesn’t ruin the book, but it’s just a really distinctive and glaring screw-up, and to anybody who knows how the character is supposed to look, it’s just offputting. It’s probably safe to assume this mistake won’t be repeated, but it’s really annoying when characters just look wrong.
Justice League Dark #25 takes a few reads to fully appreciate. At first, it feels like not much actually happens as far as story progression went, but then it makes sense that this issue had a ton of set-up work to do, and it does it well. There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle, and with everything that’s set up, it makes“Forever Evil: Blight” deserving of how big a crossover it is. Four series, eighteen issues, six months. That’s a lot of material, and they need to cover a lot of stuff so it doesn’t get boring. This is going to be one hell of a storyline if they can deliver on all the promises this issue makes, and given the pedigree behind the crossover’s writing, it’s a safe bet to say that they will deliver.
Justice League Dark #25 is available from physical and digital retailers for $3.99 USD.