The title of this issue is not “Attack of the Dead King from Another Dimension”. The actual title of this issue is “The Haunted Sea”, but sometimes, one must take some creative liberties to get across how insane comic books are, because the made up title is literally what happens in this issue. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good, after all, how many things with titles of this nature are genuinely good and not just fun for the cheese factor? But, the main question here is this: Is the issue good?
After a few straight months of terror, losing, and all around bad things happening, Constantine and his substitute Justice League Dark finally make some progress in fixing the world, really giving readers the first true victory any heroes have had since Forever Evil began. After the backup JLD barely escapes the catastrophic battle they had with Blight throughout December, they come to the conclusion that they don’t need to defeat Blight to get the real JLD back, but that things are the other way around. They set out to find the missing magical heroes, and it’s the first bit of progress they’ve made together as a team.
This issue gives us more insight into distinctive powers of the characters. While Swamp Thing’s plant powers are well known, we see that some of the other characters are more like sorcerers with specialties. Constantine is a jack-of-all-trades, not exactly having the most powerful magic around, but certainly capable of utilizing magic from a diversity of fields. Nightmare Nurse — going from previous actions in this story and her behavior here — is more of a general magic user with an unrivaled expertise in how those magics affect people, which she seems to mostly use for healing. Pandora seems to use magic to do things ordinary people can do, but much better, such as combat, and as shown here, tracking. J.M. DeMatteis does a great job of letting the characters’ actions speak for themselves, rather than having narration constantly explain just what the characters are doing.
This book’s usage of the Sea King is also great for Forever Evil, as a whole. Throughout the main Forever Evil title and Justice League, Geoff Johns has taken time to show how the Earth-3 evil counterparts of the Justice League differentiate from the heroic versions we’re familiar with. While this leads to a lot of interesting stories to be told with an evil Batman, evil Superman, evil Green Lantern, etc., an evil Aquaman is basically exactly what you would think; King of a terrible underwater empire that wants to destroy his enemies. This certainly doesn’t mean that his story wouldn’t be worth telling, and there are definitely twists you could throw in to make it more than what people would expect, but if you have to toss one of the founding members of the League aside when it’s time to break out the evil version, Aquaman is the most expendable from a storytelling standpoint. Still, DeMatteis uses Sea King masterfully here, with his sudden return from the dead leading to a very engaging mystery on the ocean blue.
As always, Mikel Janín’s art is great. Characters are all bold and distinctive. The magical effects are great, but especially impressive is all the water and ocean effects in this issue. The terrible strength of the ocean really comes through here, with big imposing waves, monstrous whirlpools, and a feeling of emptiness and desolation when it’s all gone. The book has three inkers; Vicente Cifuentes, Guillermo Ortego, and Jordi Tarragona, and they all do a great job and you can never tell that there’s been a switch somewhere along the way. Add in the dark, bold, and varied colors of Jeromy Cox, and this book keeps up the high standard of visual quality Justice League Dark has always possessed.
Nothing, really. A lot happens in this book, with this one issue having a clear three-act structure in itself, and nothing feels lacking.
This is the best issue of the Forever Evil event so far. The team has their first real victory yet, and takes their first step towards undoing all the magical mayhem that’s befallen the world. The plot is engaging, the action is amazing, and it provides readers with the kind of bizarre themes and strange adventures comics are known for. If the rest of “Forever Evil: Blight” keeps up this standard of quality, this could be a legendary comic. Or at least as legendary as comics starring non A-list characters get.
Justice League Dark #26 is available from digital and physical retailers for $2.99 USD. Well, depending on where you are. I understand holiday release schedules are varying a bit depending on location.