Just last month, DC wrapped up the Forever Evil: Blight crossover event that had spun out off the main Forever Evil event. One of the books that were a part of this crossover was Justice League Dark by J. M. DeMatteis and Mikel Janin. The crossover put the new team through its paces and had them suffer a great many trials before they won out in the end, although not without some cost. Zatanna is now the owner of the House of Mystery and Constantine has pretty much been kicked out of the team. Many of the original members are now questioning their place in the grand scheme of things, and with the new players in, things are very different.
Justice League Dark #30 deals with the fall0ut of Forever Evil: Blight as much as it advances the overall plotline by introducing a new thriller-mystery to occupy the reader. With all the divisions in the team, plus the current mental conflicts of many of the characters, this new issue is one of the best that DeMatteis has written for the series. However, Mikel Janin is not in the creative team anymore it seems since artist Andres Guinaldo is credited in his spot. The art is still pretty good however, with special thanks to Brad Anderson who is one of the best colourists in the industry in my estimation.
Part of this issue deals with Constantine’s struggle to come to terms with what he did in the tail-end of the Blight arc. Up until that point the character had been built up as a hero despite his anti-hero tendencies and he was someone that you could really cheer for excitedly. But then he totally threw it all away once he got Zatanna free and considered his whole involvement in the matter over, to the detriment of the rest of the team. Now he’s slumming it in the streets of New York, bereft of any guidance or compass, serving as little more than a literal punching bag for Deadman who takes out some of his frustration on him. While ostensibly the scene adds to Constantine’s character, it is much more significant for Deadman since he was one of the most abused characters during the crossover, something that has mentally scarred him to a degree.
And I have to say that I loved the approach that DeMatteis took with Deadman. He’s been a kind of hangers-on for most of the series, popping in and out and occasionally dropping some one-liners and some moments of awesome heroism, but he hasn’t really seen much character exploration, and that’s what happens here.
From there on we move to see how Zatanna and Asa (Nightmare Nurse) interact with each other. As ladies with whom Constantine has had a fling with over the years, they are kind of antagonistic to each other but their shared experience during Blight has changed their outlook and what DeMatteis does in this issue is define both the ladies on their own terms rather than through Constantine, which was a great approach. I definitely loved having Zatanna back in the saddle for this series, she was sorely missed during the Blight event.
What I found most intriguing however was that Frankenstein and Black Orchid are considering leaving the team. They are solitary characters by nature and they are both struggling with their identities in the face of what they endured at the hands of Nick Necro and Felix Faust with the Thaumaton arc in the Blight event. Frankenstein is much more conflicted than Black Orchid, given his past history. These were some really moving pages and I’m glad that I got to see this side of both characters, especially Black Orchid since she’s always been very reserved.
And then, the issue ends on a really startling cliffhanger as a new mystery is introduced for the team, something right up their ally and which promises to hopefully reunite the entire team proper and perhaps even smooth over their differences. The cast of this book has expanded significantly during Blight and I would love for all these characters to stick together because they all rock.
With Andres Guinaldo on pencils we have Mark Irwin on the inks and Brad Anderson on the colours with Rob Leigh on the letters and Mikel Janin turning out another awesome cover for the series. In the tail-end of the Blight event there’s been a lot of reshuffling of the art team for the series and hopefully now that the event is all done with, we will have stability on that front. I do miss Mikel’s pencils in this issue, especially as far as Zatanna, Asa and Frankenstein are concerned, but Andres does a great job nonetheless. As with Vicente Cifuentes pencils in the final issues of the event for this title and Mikel before that, Andres’ portrayal is representative of the characters, with little differences. Mostly just how his characters pose and their expressions, but that should be smoothed out over time. Mark’s inks are good as well and they have a strong definition, really bringing out the details of Andres’ pencils. But the real star is Brad Anderson, who does a simply amazing job, matching everything that Jeromy Cox did before him, and even exceeding him. Some really amazing colour palettes in use here.
Overall, in the wake of Forever Evil: Blight, it looks like Justice League Dark is still going strong and I’m all for that.