Justice League Dark #19
Jeff Lemire. Ray Fawkes
Some of the best fringe characters DC has. The art team really delivers. Engrossing story.
The Flash seems really out of place.
John Constantine finds himself the target of an attack by The Cult of the Cold Flame but this is just a diversion so someone can steal The House of Mystery. Meanwhile Deadman meets with A.R.G.U.S who have a tempting offer.
Despite a wobbly start Justice League Dark has established itself as the team book for people that don’t really ‘do’ superheroes.
Following the Death of Magic story, Frankenstein seems to have been drafted in is a member of the team now. This can only be a good development as he provides both intelligence and brute force and it’s good to see the character hasn’t disappeared into obscurity after his own criminally underrated title got cancelled a while back.
There’s plenty of things going on in this issue and some of the ideas that are coming to the fore could lead to some great character explorations.
Deadman is shown getting vicarious thrills literally after possessing someone, this is something that’s never been dealt with before and the idea of being able to experience things without having to deal with any of the negative consequences is an intriguing one – hopefully this aspect of Brand’s character will feature more in future.
Xanadu lets on that she knew of events that were going to happen but did nothing to prevent them, which doesn’t sit well with Constantine and could cause animosity amongst the group going forward.
Deadman gets his thrills whenever and however he can.
Swamp Thing appears in this issue after being summoned against his will by Constantine, which really doesn’t go down well, and makes for probably the worst reunion ever – although to Constantine they’ve never met. Swamp Thing and Constantine trade barbed words with Holland not wasting time in showing his anger at being wrenched from Louisiana at Constantine’s behest.
It’s been pretty clear from the start that nobody really likes Constantine and they’re even less likely to trust him with the exception of Zatanna, this is brought to the fore again when Frankenstein says he has “the tongue of a rat”.
To further sour the relationship between Swamp Thing and Constantine, when Holland tries to locate the now missing House of Mystery something goes wrong. Very wrong. The team members find themselves in their own personal nightmares; Constantine faces a doppelganger formed from his own blood, Xanadu is assaulted by the skeletal remains of her former lovers and Frankenstein has to face his son after seeing him kill his former wife amongst other disturbing scenes. Even Swamp Thing himself is a prisoner in the House of Mystery.
Swamp Thing is not pleased with Constantine’s arrogance.
This is the kind of story that makes you want the next issue now to see what happens, and that’s the best you can expect out of any title.
I also love how nobody on the team actually refers to themselves as the ‘Justice League Dark’ it’s actually used mockingly by A.R.G.U.S as a way to point how they’re all misfits and will never be the Justice League of America.
I think it needs noting that the art team have consistently delivered on Justice League Dark, Mikel Janin‘s layouts have made for a solid foundation for the art team. There’s more evidence of that in this issue with plenty of busy frames, but nothing is ever confusing and it retains a clarity despite being detailed. The nightmare scenes are particularly well done and Swamp Thing’s encounter with Constantine really sells how physically powerful Holland is.