After crossing the speedbump of zero month, Jeff Lemire puts “Justice League Dark” #13 back on the path of furthering the “War for the Books of Magic” storyarc. The previous installment left the team split in three directions, hoping to track down the Books of Magic, which led to the introduction of the New 52’s surprisingly powerless Timothy Hunter, much to the chagrin of Madame Xanadu.
In just a few issues, Jeff Lemire has transformed “Justice League Dark” from a series I check out occasionally to one I absolutely cannot wait to read. In recent years, the Justice League brand has fallen short of my expectations, but this “Dark” title has sparked the fire and passion in its creators to revive the “old-school” feel I’ve been missing from my Justice League reading. The smaller couplings of characters allows for better character development and more interesting scenarios like Black Orchid and John Constantine taking on Black Boris, cannibal king of the fire trolls. That scene, just three pages in length gives the reader enough information about all of the characters involved and also verbalizes a nice mystery regarding Orchid’s powers that will surely be addressed in the future.
In the past, the magical characters of the DC Universe have been used only in moderation, giving their fans, but fans have always checked in with those characters for the sheer potential of their adventures. Lemire isn’t afraid to live up that potential, giving Deadman, Black Orchid, Constantine and Zatanna all a chance to cast some spells and share some magic. Without heavy hitters like Dr. Fate or the Spectre, these “lesser knowns” are given room to grow and entertain and under Lemire’s pen, they do just that.
The art, by Mikel Janin and Victor Drujiniu, is stunning. Tendency with mystical characters is render them with gritty edges, stark shadows or minimalistic outlines, but Janin pours astonishing detail into each and every piece of each and every panel, from the weathered faÃ§ade of the House of Mystery to the splayed tendrils of the root system within Blackbriar Thorn’s essence. The artist carries that enthusiasm over to the characters, empowering them with dynamic poses and human expressions. Ulises Arreola’s colors are bold and wonderful, filling this book with life and mystery, while enhancing the depth and emotion of Janin’s art.
This series excels due to team sensibilities similar to the Satellite Era of the “Justice League of America” and a cast slightly more elevated than that of the post-“Zero Hour” series “Primal Force,” but with more power and purpose. “Justice League Dark” #13 is a fun sample of the plot, action and character balance that Jeff Lemire brings to this series. The story in this issue is part of a longer narrative that pulls together so many different threads and notions from across the DC Universe to become something new and thrilling.