When J. M. DeMatteis came onboard Justice League Dark last year with Forever Evil: Blight, he brought several new characters to the team roster, characters like Nightmare Nurse and Swamp Thing. It was a really interesting time and after about two years of the same team as brought together by Peter Milligan and Jeff Lemire, DeMatteis really shook things up. And what really got to me was the character of Nightmare Nurse. With Forever Evil: Blight now over, he’s been delving a bit into Nightmare Nurse’s past and it has been a most diverting tale.
This week’s Justice League Dark #32 sees the splintered JLD team try to get Asa (Nightmare Nurse) out of Zatanna’s body after their attempt to get her out of the body of Alice Winters failed and her soul ended up in Zatanna’s body. But it is not going to be such an easy thing this time since Zatanna is a font of incredible magical power, most well-suited to Asa’s own brand of magic and mayhem. DeMatteis writes an absolutely cracking script here this time though the art by Andres Guinaldo and Co. wasn’t always to my liking, it must be said.
At the heart of the Justice League Dark team is the fact that they are all magicians to one degree or another, even Boston Brand aka Deadman. But of course, the real magic-movers are Zatanna, Constantine and Asa, with even Swamp Thing making some grandiose displays every now and then. And when you have a supernatural-oriented team of heroes, things are quite different indeed for there is always a magical solution to the team’s problems, as we have seen in the past and continue to see here. Some times it feels as if DeMatteis overuses magic as a plot device in his stories, and none more so than this very issue, but the basic fact once again is that his stories are really entertaining and fun so that balances that out fairly well I think.
With the effects of Forever Evil: Blight still being felt by the time, it is time for a reckoning for Asa for she has abused her current host for far too many years and now she has to own up for all the bad that she has done. Or at least start down that road, a road where Zatanna stands in judgement of her though Constantine tries to be a real voice of reason for once since he has known Asa for far longer than any of the others have.
Last month I remarked that getting to see some of the workings of Asa’s mind were the best part of the comic, and this time the best part of the comic is the interplay between all the characters and DeMatteis’ action sequences, which are fairly incredibly in how they are choreographed. And it all doesn’t stop there, for DeMatteis makes use of every single character at his disposal, every single one. Of course, I mean the House of Mystery itself, the base of operations of the Justice League Dark since its inception by Madame Xanadu. Formerly the abode of Constantine, the House transferred its ownership to Zatanna at the end of Forever Evil: Blight and now it is as if the House is much more attuned to its new owner than the old one and it seems to be gaining quite a heroic personality for itself. Which is quite fun I must point out.
And as always, the character interactions are like top-notch here, for DeMatteis really does understand what makes each of his characters tick and do things a certain way.
There’s a bit of a shake-up in the art team once again this time. While Andres Guinaldo is still on as the penciller, Walden Wong is the sole inker this time, Chris Sotomayor replaces Brad Anderson on the colours and instead of Taylor Esposito we have Rob Leigh on the letters. The changes are thing for the best I think since the replacements are well worth the people they are replacing, especially in the case of Chris Sotomayor since he is one of my favourite colourists in the industry and he delivers some great work with this issue. And with there being a single inker, there is much more consistency to the art in that regard. The only downside is that some of Andrew Guinaldo’s pencils are still problematic and that’s where the consistency is weakest.
And the cover by Mikel Janin is superb as always. I really do wish that he was still the internal artist as well.
Still, not a bad issue after all. In fact, it is one of DeMatteis’ better issues by far.