I think most people had high hopes for “Justice League Dark” out of nostalgia, more than anything else. I remember reading the Vertigo titles back when they were still part of the DC Universe, comics like “Doom Patrol” and “Animal Man,” where at any given moment they could bump into one another, or there might be a reference to the Doom Patrol using an old Justice League base. What I didn’t think everyone saw coming, though, was that Peter Milligan and Mikel Janin wouldn’t depend one iota on nostalgia to make “Justice League Dark” an excellent comic, but rather just do so on its own merits.
The script for “Justice League Dark” #2 at its core is a very simple one; the different main characters are all still apart, but each beginning to intersect with the threat of the Enchantress at the core of the comic. You can see them all getting closer together and starting to meet, but it’s a traditional “this is how the team is formed” comic. What makes it work so well, though, is that Milligan does a strong job of giving everyone their own moment. From Zatanna’s early confrontation with the heart of the disturbance, to Deadman and Dove’s relationship woes, you quickly get a feel for each character and get a strong idea of how they’re going to interact.
More importantly, Milligan makes them all interesting to read about. Deadman and Dove being a couple isn’t that riveting on its own, but Milligan makes their issues and differing levels of morality a strong piece of story to sink your teeth into. The Enchantress’ voice coming out of people’s radios is nicely eerie, too; it’s a great, “What’s going on here?” sort of moment that begins to build and coalesce as the comic progresses. It’s a little creepy in places, just like the title “Justice League Dark” promises.
It doesn’t hurt that Janin’s art looks great for a second month in a row. I love the fine lines he uses to draw his characters; little details like individual locks of Zatanna’s hair blowing in the wind feel real and add realism to the comic, for example. And when Zatanna gets to the disturbance, well, you can spend quite a bit of time looking at all of the tendrils and the wreckage that that they contain. He’s strong with the facial expressions, too; Dove’s look of shock and then getting upset in the bar, for instance, works that much better because of how Janin draws her. Janin works well with colorist Ulises Arreola, too; the panel with Constantine using his own abilities is that much better because of the eerie glow that it produces, and those night skies are much more effective by being a cloudy dark blue than a simple black.
“Justice League Dark” #2 is a lot of fun, and Milligan and Janin even provide a great cliffhanger “gotcha” moment where we discover that not all of our assumptions about the characters were 100% accurate. This title is a great addition to the DC stable, and it’s now quite nicely solidified itself as a must-read. Check it out.