A lot of multi-part comic stories (especially those in the 5-7 issue ranges) run afoul of what I like to refer to as “middle issue syndrome,” that moment where everything drags a little bit as the script shifts from set-up to climax. The bad news is that “Justice League Dark” #3 is squarely in that zone; the good news is that a dragging issue of “Justice League Dark” is still enjoyable.
First, it’s hard to go wrong with Mikel Janin’s art. The lines aren’t quite as detailed and fine as last month, but remove that super-detail and you get a beautifully rounded set of figures that bring to mind artists like Bryan Talbot. Janin makes some nice calls on how he draws the cast, like Deadman’s cadaverous eyes (they remind me of little glints of light in a cave, and they cast him in a wonderfully sinister light), and poor June Moon’s panic when Shade starts to appear is perfectly realized. And speaking of Shade, that sulk? Vintage Shade.
Peter Milligan’s script isn’t bad, but it’s definitely in a transitional state. Milligan’s got to get this large cast together, and they’re all edging closer and closer in ones and twos. Some of the pairings are natural, like Constantine and Zatanna, and then there are the strange ones that work like Deadman and June. Milligan has a lot of fun with them in particular; he’s got a good grasp on how to use Deadman’s power (both Milligan and Paul Jenkins are making the character far more interesting than he’s been in quite a while), and the (possibly drunken) plea from June to Deadman casts her in a slightly disturbing light.
The problem, though, is that not that much actually happens. We’re getting all sorts of meetings and conversations, but after a lot of plot in the first two issues, this is almost a standstill. It’s especially the nature of an introductory story with a cast that wouldn’t already be assembled, so it’s slightly excusable, but a little more energy would have been nice.
Still, “Justice League Dark” is fun, and this drop in quality shifts it down to only “good.” That’s not anything to be too worried about. It’s still easily the best of the three Justice League comics, and the “Dark” line of DC in general continues to generate good comics. Bring on more Dark, please.