REVIEW: Justice League Dark #0

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John Constantine travels to New York to train with the best mage the United States has to offer. Will he find what he’s looking for or will he get the magical cold shoulder? More after the jump!

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #0
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Lee Garbett & Cam Smith
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics Inc.
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Justice League Dark: After their betrayal, the team split up in order to better search out the books of magic and track down Faust and Dr. Mist. John Constantine and Black Orchid ended up at the mercy of a fire troll and Deadman and Zatanna end up at the mercy of a swamp entity. Also, a mysterious new magician, Nick Necro, starts a maniacal quest to take the books of magic for himself.

HOW CONSTANTINE MET ZATANNA

Constantine, ever his roguish self, tells the story of his coming to America to study under the best the U.S has to offer and how he joined a coven of three, consisting of himself, master mage Nick Necro and Necro’s girlfriend, Zatanna Zatara. The three became the leading experts in the supernatural and “humanity’s first responders to the underworld.” That is, until Necro started going down a dark path, putting everything he had into finding the books of magic.

As always, it’s lots of fun to hear anything narrated by the snarky John Constantine and Jeff Lemire doesn’t disappoint here. He gives us a much younger and happier Hellblazer, presumably before he became the ultra jaded jerk he currently is in the series. It seems nearly out of character to see him this upbeat and he is probably an altogether different person to fans of the original Hellblazer series.

The overall plot for this book in particular is fairly familiar. Boy meets boy. Boy meets boy’s girlfriend. Boy, boy and girl start crime-fighting team. Boy number two becomes obsessed with power and looses himself to black magic. Boy number one and girl have a fling. Boy number two vows revenge. However, while the story itself might be a little well known, it’s a welcome break from the intensity of the current storyline. Plus, the information presented on Nick Necro with undoubtedly come back to bite the JLD in the proverbial rear. In fact, it already has.

JUSTICE LEAGUE… DARK?

With bright colors, clean shadowing and smooth character detail, Lee Garbett and Cam Smith’s art is clean and crisp. A step away from the realistic and more into the realm of the cartoon, the art is a far cry from what was seen in previous issues of JLD. It’s a bold stylistic choice for this book and looks lovely. Unfortunately, it feels out of place here.

What makes Justice League Dark so beautiful is that it puts magic in a realm of realism. The series provides a look at the occult that is dark, gritty and spooky, but one that operates in a real world setting, giving readers a story that works as plausibly as it can for this genre. So far, the art has been able to keep up with this theme, showing detailed character portraits, lifelike settings and alternating between subtle shadowing and heavy shadowing. Any bright colorization has been wisely saved for magical items and spells.

The art has fit up until this book. It’s nice work on the part of the art team but it would be put to better use in a different series.

BOTTOM LINE: FUN TO BROWSE THROUGH

This book was fun and a welcome break from the doomsday intensity of the usual Justice League Dark storyline. The story is a little on the predictable side, but that doesn’t mean it’s a boring read by any means. The art is nice, but seems out of place when compared to the previous books in the series. Overall, pick it up if you’re a John Constantine fan and want a bit of info on his early years with Zatanna.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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