Forever Evil Event: The Phantom Stranger 16
J. M. DeMatteis, Fernando Blanco
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
As we enter the final stages of the event-within-an-event that is Forever Evil: Blight, the Stranger and the new Justice League Dark finally make their move toward actually saving the old team. It took quite a while to get to this point, but the story seems to have reached this point in a manner that is fitting and completely flows for me. A few hiccups along the way with various crossovers are to be expected, but all in all, this has been a solid ride. Mostly due to the writing of the legendary J. M. DeMatteis and a few surprisingly good issues from relative newcomer Ray Fawkes. This issue, featuring some pretty good artwork from Fernando Blanco (with a beautiful cover by Guillem March), leads us directly into the final act. While the main event rages on, this miniature (but seemingly just as important, if not more personal, or even spiritual) does so with almost as much force.
The first half of the issue is spent with the Stranger and the Nightmare Nurse trying to rescue John Constantine from his own personal Hell. Literally. Though well-executed, I feel like this could have (or rather, should have) taken place in his own book. I am afraid to predict that the next part of this storyline, which is in fact Constantine, will be a retelling of this exact same story. I hope I’m wrong. But the second half is where the book really impressed me. The Sea King (aka Deadman inside the Crime Syndicate’s recently-deceased version of Aquaman) enters the mystical temple (guarded by Felix Faust and some other nasty villains) and leads his team into what will most assuredly be an action-packed rescue attempt. I can’t wait to see this team reunited with the old one.
And more importantly, I can’t wait to see who lives, dies, and inevitably joins the new-new Justice League Dark. It would be great to see all of these “dark” titles combined into one mega and ultra-dependable book each and every month. I know that this is an unrealistic (and not to mention not very good a business) plan, but it would be a nice reward to all of us who have stayed true and loyal these last almost three years. I’m not saying that the books should be cancelled because they’re bad. I’m just saying that this event has given DC a great opportunity to combine in a sort of “greatest hits” type of way. Five or more mediocre-to-good titles pale in comparison to one (or maybe even two) awesome ones. Justice League Dark should be the one. And maybe backup features from the rest, if they really want to keep that 3.99 price tag.
My Rating: 4/5