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Friday, October 28, 2011

DAMN Good Comics -- JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #2

Sure, Justice League Dark sounds way too much like a specific type of beer or chocolate, but if that's what it takes to get more people to buy this book then so be it.

Back in April, I posted my thoughts on rebooting John Constantine back from his current geriatric state in Hellblazer, blissfully unaware that DC Comics was already making plans to give us a young Constantine for their relaunched Post-Flashpoint "New 52" DC Universe.  Obviously, the Justice League Dark version was going to be sanitized, with no F-bomb dropping or middle-finger extending, but interestingly, the new DCU version was going to have the exact same writer, Peter Milligan.  Yes, the Peter Milligan made famous for his legendary 70-issue run of Shade, the Changing Man for DC's Vertigo line, and oh look -- Shade just happens to be in Justice League Dark as well.

Milligan emphasizes that this team -- which still isn't a team -- are "half-insane and damaged goods," setting the apparent tone for the series.  No character personifies that better in this issue than Deadman, who reveals all kinds of issues centered around his sexual frustration of being a ghost involved with Dove, a living woman.  When Geoff Johns first paired these two up in Brightest Day, it seemed as though their relationship was over when Boston Brand died and became Deadman once again.  However, Milligan seems interested in exploring the "dead and living couple" concept to its potential, toying with the idea of Deadman making love to Dove using a possessed male body.  Dove is understandably thrown by the suggestion, especially when Deadman accuses her of being "old-fashioned" and then caresses her cheek softly and tells her he loves her while using the body of June Moone.  It definitely gives the book more of a Vertigo-esque edge than your standard Justice League title and gives Dove far more depth as a character than she receives in the disappointing Hawk and Dove series.

Bringing this and other scenes involving Zatanna and Constantine to life is artist Mikel Janin, a newcomer most recently known for the Flashpoint mini-series Deadman and the Flying Graysons.  His figures are a bit stiff at times, but combined with some stellar coloring by Ulises Arreola, they become very visually bold and interesting to look at.  Simple scenes such as Dawn Granger transforming into Dove that look flat and lifeless in Hawk and Dove shine brightly and magically here, while John Constantine's spellcasting glows far more impressively than the standard dark and gloomy color palette found in Hellblazer.  There's some genuine talent here, and it's going to be interesting to see how this book grows and evolves in the months ahead.

As this issue ends, we get another glimpse of the growing threat from the Enchantress while an unexpected flip from one of the lead characters makes you wonder exactly how Justice League Vertigo Dark is going to coalesce into a full-fledged team.  Or maybe they won't, I guess we'll just have to wait and see...

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