Or – “It Can’t Rain All The Time…”

After the threat of the Enchantress and the vampire war, John Constantine’s team is short a few members and facing a greater threat than ever.  Will a little new blood (both figuratively and literally) get things back on track?

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mikel Janin
Colorist: Ulises Arreola
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Justice League Dark:  The Enchantress used to be a hero (albeit a minor one) but her descent into the worlds of magic and madness turned her into a greater threat than any of the things she fought in her green tights.  A group of mystical types under the leadership of John Constantine (!!) managed to stop her rampage, and stayed together as the vampire nation declared war on the mundane world.  Now, John has a new mission and a few new soldiers to work with…  Will this JL Dark make the grade?


When the announcements of the new DCU were made, among the most intriguing for me was the implication that all the DCU-based properties at Vertigo (Swamp Thing, Animal Man, Hellblazer and such) would be coming home to the DC Universe.  Since I never really cared for the Vertigo separation in the first place, given how arbitrary and gradual it happened, I was happy to see them coming back to the main DCU.  The first arcs of this book, however, disappointed me in their darkness and obscurity (a hallmark, and not always a bad one, of previous writer Pete Milligan.)  This issue opens with a much-more-dangerous-and-creepy-looking Felix Faust confronting a man who has the temerity to invade his secret citadel.  “Fancy meeting you here, Felix,” deadpans John Constantine.  “Got a light?”  Right there, Jeff Lemire has me sold, American.  Before Felix can murder JC in cold blood, his new team (Andrew Bennett, Black Orchid, Deadman and Zatanna) leap into action, with Deadman commenting that they’re acting like a “regular superhero team.”  John pauses to light his cigarette before musing about his new “band,” using a musical metaphor to discuss who does what, in classic Five-Man Band fashion.


Turns out, Johnny has been recruited by the Justice League’s own Steve Trevor to deal with magical menaces outside the purview of the Big Seven supers, enticing Constantine to join up by teasing him with the knowledge of mystical secrets currently in the government’s hands.  Lemire’s justifications work perfectly here, even with the mess left behind after the war with the vampires, as Bennett, Zatanna and Deadman are each drawn in with perfect bait, and the man the team is being sent to save (Doctor Mist) is only the first layer of continuity reference in play here.  The defeat of Faust comes in a pretty awesome way, thanks to the secretive Black Orchid, and the issue ends with the revelation of Faust’s power-source, an item that gives our little coterie additional reasons to stay together.  I like the tone of this issue, taking tropes of the super-hero genre and applying them to characters completely uncomfortable (or openly derisive) of the term, while refusing to see how perfectly they fit the roles.  Lemire’s greatest trick is putting John Constantine at the center of things while keeping his established loner, deadpan snarker traits intact, something which I truly enjoy…


All in all, this is probably a better team than the core JLA, and certainly one that has fewer awful people in it, even given that the characters here don’t really get along.  The mystery at the center of it all is both intriguing and rooted in continuity, and it is my fervent hope that things will continue in this vein, as the issue was very clearly conceptualized and lovely to read.  The art remains good, if dark, and one of the greatest problems (how to tell Madame Xanadu and Zatanna apart in the close-ups) is quickly handled as Madame X takes a backseat (or possibly quits the team entirely, whichever.)  Justice League Dark #9 is surprisingly good, channeling both classic superhero comics and the Vertigo mystique into a coherent agglomeration, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  This is as good an issue of this comic as I’ve seen so far…

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. Ryan Kelly
    May 26, 2012 at 6:08 am — Reply

    I have liked JLD since issue 1 even though at the one comic shop i went to the people rolled their eyes whenever i got it saying that “omg it looks so stupid” but the series as a whole so far has been amazing! A lot of it comes from the dysfunctional team, and as a new reader reading mostly new 52, it shows me a lot of offbeat characters from the normal batman, flash and GL. It even got me into I, Vampire! All in all, an amazing series so far i would have given it as a whole a 4.5/5

  2. brainypirate
    May 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm — Reply

    OT, but what happened to the Tag Cloud in the right-hand column?

    • May 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm — Reply

      OT, but what happened to the Tag Cloud in the right-hand column?

      There have been some layout changes of late as Stephen continues to tinker with the site. I am not sure if the Tag Cloud is permanently done away with, or currently in limbo, but feedback is always appreciated…

  3. May 26, 2012 at 5:39 pm — Reply

    I was considering dropping this series until this issue, definitely has my good fortune for the time being. Though on the reveal in the last panel, I am hoping for a gradual reintroduction of more mystical implements of the DCU, like Helm of Nabu.

  4. Fieweger
    May 26, 2012 at 10:26 pm — Reply

    Thanks for the review! Was thinking about dropping JL Dark until I read your review. Will stick with it a few more issues and see how this story plays out.

  5. Doc
    May 27, 2012 at 12:29 pm — Reply

    I freakin’ loved this comic. Possibly my personal favourite comic I read this month!

  6. May 27, 2012 at 6:21 pm — Reply

    Justice League wouldn’t be so bad if they’d stop making the characters assholes, and made the ones that aren’t assholes actually get to be characters instead of weights to depress the “fight scene” button.

    • Ryan
      May 27, 2012 at 9:21 pm — Reply

      well the whole point is that they are a mismatched team that has to try to work together even though they don’t want to, they are all selfish in some way (except maybe zantanna or whatever her name is) and they have to over come that. The being ass hole point is to show this dysfunction.

      • Trey
        May 29, 2012 at 7:32 am — Reply

        I think after issue 9 they should be at the point where “boo-hoo i’m too busy being a jerk” attitudes should be gone.

        • Ryan
          May 31, 2012 at 10:11 am — Reply

          hopefully they will start coming together after this vampire arc

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