Justice League Dark 26
J. M. DeMatteis, Mikel Janin
Forever Evil Crossover
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
This series is slowly becoming one of the most entertaining books on the shelves, which I attribute almost entirely to the arrival of writer J. M. DeMatteis. Though I’ve always enjoyed the artwork of the book, the stories were never of much interest to me as a reader. But DeMatteis certainly has proved that he’s the man for the job, expertly weaving his “new” team into the pages and still not trampling on the stories of the teams (and characters) that have come before him. Forever Evil is great, but excluding this and The Phantom Stranger, Forever Evil: Blight is sort of starting to come off as a cheap last-ditch effort to make a few extra bucks and capitalize on the event saga hype. But if this event-within-an-event ends with the cancellation and combination of all things magic into one title (say, this one, for example), I think I could look back fondly and say that it was all worth it. These characters all have potential. But they need to be under one roof. And one writer. Otherwise, they’re just stretched way too thin to be enjoyable on a monthly, or in their case, at least weekly, basis.
This issue is pretty incredible, though. The cover says it all: evil Aquaman fighting the new Justice League Dark. But before that happens, the story starts off right where we left our team: Blight has just killed them all. Constantine ponders whether or not he even deserves to go to Heaven. And Dr. Thirteen (with the help and glory-hogging credit-stealing assistance of Nightmare Nurse) resurrects each of the teammates. Constantine and company begin their search for Deadman (or rather, whoever’s body Deadman currently inhabits) while the Phantom Stranger mysteriously vanishes. We then see the team confronting the Crime Syndicate’s Sea King, who is currently possessed by an ancient civilization. The team does some quick magic and defeats him without anyone dying, but Constantine pulls a fast one and traps Deadman inside the evil version of Aquaman’s body. He has a plan, but we don’t get to hear it quite yet, because we get a cliffhanger showing the Phantom Stranger’s new teammate: Blight. Obviously, there’s more going on here than we’re being led to believe.
This is, plain and simple, great writing. The pacing is perfect. The dialogue is within character for everyone speaking, and to be quite honest, it’s keeping me guessing. What seems like random plot twists are actually (quite obviously, when you think about them) really well-crafted clues. The Phantom Stranger is either playing both ends and really is as self-serving as everyone thinks he is, or he’s a double-agent with a secret agenda of his own. And I’m certainly hoping that Deadman in the Sea King’s body is part of Constantine’s plan to confront the Crime Syndicate with a double agent of his own. Only time will tell, but Forever Evil: Blight just took it up a notch. In a good way. And the timing couldn’t have been better, because I was getting a little bored, to be honest. As with this week’s issue of Forever Evil: A. R. G. U. S., the halfway point of this storyline had a much-needed pace pickup. Well done, DeMatteis and Janin. You’ve just saved this storyline.
My Rating: 4.5/5