“Justice League Dark” #24 serves as the opening chapter to “Blight,” the soon-to-be-sweeping crossover between this title, “Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger,” “Trinity of Sin: Pandora” and “Constantine.” The crux of this issue, J.M. DeMatteis’ first collaboration with regular “Dark” artist Mikel Janin, focuses on Constantine in the aftermath of “Trinity War.”
Mikel Janin’s impeccable detail is ever-present throughout “Justice League Dark” #24 and he adds to that with some creative storytelling. The issue opens with a nine-panel grid, reminiscent of old Kevin Maguire-drawn over Keith Giffen layouts from “Justice League” in the 1980s. Immediately, Janin follows it up with a wild double-page spread filled with bizarre images and an expertly executed worm’s-eye view of the world. Additionally, Janin progresses scenes throughout neighboring panels and even adds panel frames to a larger scene to move Constantine across a sprawling room. The artist, with wonderfully attuned colors from Jeromy Cox, also moves his point of view throughout the story as Constantine wanders through the House of Mystery, trying desperately to conjure up his teammates. Rob Leigh’s word balloons, captions and sound effects could not be more integral to the artwork, joining into a trinity of visual awesomeness with Janin and Cox. Hands down, “Justice League Dark” #24 is one of the most beautiful books to come out this week.
For his part, DeMatteis does a fine job laying groundwork for the larger tale to come. More than a few folks will complain about Constantine’s voice or manner, but having lived through what he just did, it’s likely those readers would do more out of character than DeMatteis’ Constantine ever could. That said, I quite like the voice DeMatteis uses for Constantine and the struggle inherent to the character’s desire to do good, but not wanting to be classified as a hero or a do-gooder. DeMatteis gives readers entry to Constantine’s thoughts directly, making him significantly more sympathetic, especially considering the opening sequence of this issue.
While “Justice League Dark” #24 is short on panel appearances by Deadman, Frankenstein, Madame Xanadu, Black Orchid and Zatanna, the comic book doesn’t suffer for it. John Constantine is given a chance to re-familiarize himself with readers as the House of Mystery is explored throughout the issue. By the end, Constantine has settled on a mission and begins to assemble a team. The decisions he makes along the way and influential forces provide a strong issue and continue to make “Justice League Dark” an enjoyable read. With DeMatteis and Janin on board, I just might stick around to see what “Blight” is all about. The creative team of “Justice League Dark” #24 certainly makes a strong case for it.