Sunday, May 26, 2013

Justice League Dark #20

(w) Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes
(a) Mikel Janin and Vicente Cifuentes


Last month's "WTF" edict demanded that each title in the 'New 52' drop some big revelation or surprise somewhere in their April issue. For the most part, writers were able to organically integrate this concept into their current narrative. But for some, it felt very forced. Like Earth 2 #11's inclusion of Mister Miracle even though he wasn't actually part of the story at all. Or how the revelation that Eclipso was behind the scheme to destroy House Amethyst in Sword of Sorcery #7 was a surprise to no one who actually read the series. 

Justice League Dark #19 guest starred not only Swamp Thing -- which made sense, as Swampy is a Dark-themed character -- but also The Flash. Unfortunately, it was all of a one-page spread. This was an instance where the "WTF" moment felt very forced, like editorial knew Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes were gearing up to use Flash in Justice League Dark #20, and just wanted to make #19 all the more attention-grabbing, just for sales. But that's all just my own beef with DC higher management.

Justice League Dark #20 is a fantastic issue. I wasn't expecting it not to be, as Lemire and Fawkes have been delivering amazing issue after amazing issue for months now. I'm always just a bit skeptical of guest appearances that seem too good to be true; like Flash working with the JLD.

Barry Allen is unique in the 'New 52' as one of the only characters who is written so consistently across every title he's featured in -- the Flash is always his good-natured, generous, laid-back self, whichever book you're reading. That's rare these days as many writers simply use guest appearances as a plot device instead of deriving real character relationships from the experience. Barry isn't there just to be fast: He provides a significantly different perspective on how to be a hero. Even after John Constantine berates him in front of everyone else, he still stands up for the surly mage when his compatriots turn against him.

If you're not reading Justice League Dark, you should be. I know that's a cliche thing to say in comic book reviews, but hear me out. It checks off a lot of boxes on the "who would like this?" list. It's a supernatural series (1). It includes well-known heroes like Constantine, Deadman, and Zatanna (2). It's consistently one of the best titles DC publishes each month (3). It's an integral part of this summer's "Trinity War" crossover (4). Mikel Janin's artwork is superb (5). That's five good reasons to read this book.


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