COMIC REVIEW: Justice League Dark #9

Jeff Lemire’s takeover of ‘Justice League Dark’ in the wake of original series writer Peter Milligan’s departure manages to give a different yet still satisfying new take on the team-that-is-not-a-team. At the end of Milligan’s eight-issue tenure on the series, the group that was brought together by Madame Xanadu to save the world from themselves, just as much as mystical threats, had broken up.

Justice League Dark #9 feels like it takes place some time after that break up and provides a new focal point for the group via John Constantine, and a reason why he brings the group back together that fits in with his selfish nature.

While Milligan’s take on the group focused more strongly on the horror elements, Lemire shifts the tone towards adventure territory. Making the wisecracking, cynical John Constantine a bizarre yet natural mix between Indiana Jones and James Bond, with a variety of entertaining lines. One line deftly gets to the bottom of where the name “Justice League Dark” comes from in the space of one throwaway panel, which is much appreciated.

One particularly pleasing element to the book is that it feels more like a sequel to Milligan’s run, rather than as merely a direct continuation. In doing so Lemire has freed himself from the potential constraints of established elements of what has come before, and made the comic easily accessible to newcomers hopping on board nine issues in.

Mikel Janin returns this issue following his two-issue hiatus during the “Rise of the Vampires” crossover with ‘I,Vampire’. Once again his does an incredible job with the characters, and has a knack for handling facial expressions and drama without going overboard with poses. Every page is a wonder to look at, and his splash pages are beautiful in their simplicity and weight.

What surprises most about the art is Ulises Arreola’s colours. The dark shadows and hues of before have been given a facelift from previous, as the majority of the story takes place in the light (or half-light) of day. There are very few dark panels in the comic and this feeds the new vibe of adventure that Jeff Lemire appears to be taking with his turn at the helm of this band of magical misfits and nut jobs.  So strongly is the tone visually different that it even made me think that the comic had been given a new artist.

A complaint that could be raised is that Jeff Lemire’s script for the comic can at times come across as overly wordy in places which slows the book down somewhat, but the plot is strong, the central character is well presented and the premise for the overall story arc is intriguing. What’s more – Lemire manages to make the story feel complete in the span of one issue whilst adding elements that will bring you back for next issue, a rarity these days.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Dean Simons

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