Changing writers on a title less than a year into its run often signifies that things are going horribly wrong, but happily Jeff Lemire’s arrival on “Justice League Dark” is quite the opposite. We’re two issues into his run on the series, and he and artist Mikel Janin are acting like they’d worked together since issue #1.
One thing that I’ve found interesting is that Lemire seems to like the idea of the membership being in flux for “Justice League Dark.” Original series writer Peter Milligan started this trend with characters like Mindwarp, Enchantress and Shade appearing and leaving during parts of those eight issues. That continues here; not only did Lemire introduce some new members (Andrew Bennett from “I, Vampire” plus Black Orchid and Doctor Mist), but we have characters leaving or staying away from the main group. It’s an interesting tactic — have a core number of characters and then have the rest be floaters — and while it’s a little erratic in places, so far it seems to work. This is a book populated in part by manipulators, so it makes sense that not everyone would want to be around 24/7.
The plot itself is fun, re-introducing the House of Mystery into the re-launched DC Universe, as well as explaining what the Books of Magic hold and why they’re so important. (Not to be confused with the “Books of Magic” comic from back in the day, of course.) There’s a good interplay between the characters and events of this issue, and I like the trap that Lemire devised for the Books and why nothing is quite as simple as it initially seems. It’s a more traditional title in some ways than Lemire’s other DC books, but it’s still fun.
Janin’s art continues to look beautiful, as he and colorist Ulises Arreola turn out great page after page. The opening shot of the House of Mystery looks wonderfully detailed, and I love how real all of the main characters are under Janin’s pencil and how fantastic the monsters are. The pages never look cluttered under Janin — an issue other highly detailed artists often have — and the colors make the art just pop off of the page. It’s almost hard to believe that this is Janin’s first high-profile comic, because it feels like he’s been doing this for decades.
“Justice League Dark” #10 is another reminder that the comic is in good hands with Lemire and Janin. It’s got just the right mixture of adventure and sneakiness, and best of all I think Lemire’s got a strong handle on John Constantine as the center that everything swirls around. All in all, a good job.