Review by C.J. Bunce
When the 52 titles of DC’s “New 52″ were announced a few months back, a glaring omission was a comic book featuring our favorite backward talking, fishnet wearing magician, Zatanna. Happily she has a featured role in the new series Justice League Dark. If we’re lucky, she will be proclaimed the ultimate leader of this new spin on the Justice League.
The title is a little weird but the “dark” is enough to pick up readers and it is, after all, why I grabbed this one. Let’s see, there’s Milky Way Dark and now there’s Justice League Dark. I hope they don’t plan to really call the team that. In the very best scene of Issue #1 we see Zatanna working with Batman, and the rationale for this series is laid out: there are some things the Justice League is not suited for, things involving an understanding of the darker elements, like magic. Zatanna gets to work one of her backward spoken charms on Batman entangling him in gold magic. This is one of the best drawn Batmans of the New 52, by artist Mikel Janin. And the new Zatanna looks great, even without her classic fishnets. Writer Peter Milligan’s best work in this book is this scene, and he shows some great characterizations between these two key characters of the DCU.
The Enchantress is the villain at the beginning of this new title. She is wreaking havoc from her base inside an envelope in a dilapitated shack (and yes, you read that right). Madame Xanadu foresees doom is coming and a strange girl is seen dying in multiple realities yet fixed in one reality–“34 simulacra of June Moone” as Zatanna sees it. Shade, who freely manipulates and changes realities keeps changing his girlfriend Kate. The actual Justice League of Cyborg, Superman and Wonder Woman try and fail to stop the Enchantress, who is involved in supernatural deaths and a power plant becoming sentient (one panel is all we get on that oddity). It is unclear how this fits into the ongoing Justice League series, however. John Constantine is summoned by Zatanna. And June Moone tracks down Deadman. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Former JLA member Zatanna, in new outfit, is the obvious headliner for the group but only time will tell. Ultimately Madame Xanadu sees death for all these would-be team members.
I like the concept here and the art is well done. I also like the use of several women characters featured instead of the typical male team-up with a token female character. Issue #1 features a nice cover by Ryan Sook.
If there is one thing I don’t like it is the choice of the same expletive multiple times in one issue–“Christ!”, and an odd choice at that. It’s one thing to have a novel peppered with a few expletives of any variety if it furthers the plot, but here the use seemed random, unnecessary, and in a story of only 24 pages just not appropriate to the story or a teen rated title, dark or not. A writing teacher once said over-use of expletives is a sign of poor writing. Unless it is a book about the mob or gangs, I would agree.
An overall well-drawn book and unique character ensemble will have me back next month for Issue #2. DC Comics also released a slick trailer that fits the mood of this one, at this link.