The Phantom Stranger 14
J. M. DeMatteis, Fernando Blanco
Forever Evil Crossover
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
Forever Evil: Blight continues right where it left off with the last installment in the pages of Justice League Dark, also written by J. M. DeMatteis. In this issue, he is joined by artist Fernando Blanco, who is at the top of his game on this book each and every month. And even though I was slightly upset by the misleading cover (Zauriel isn’t even in this issue), it was a great second chapter to the event-within-an-event. The Phantom Stranger and the rest of the Trinity of Sin are completely and utterly fascinating to me, so the fact that they’re teaming up with (albeit reluctantly) the rest of the DC Universe’s supernatural characters is nothing short of a dream come true. Or would that be a nightmare come true? Either way, it’s great stuff.
John Constantine starts the necessary and even obligatory posturing and heroes fight each other before teaming up sequence, which is almost the entirety of this issue. He essentially blackmails them all into joining his new makeshift Justice League Dark, combining forces with Swamp Thing, the Nightmare Nurse, the Phantom Stranger, the Question, and Pandora. And soon, most likely, with Blue Devil, Black Lightning, and Dr. Thirteen. And hopefully even more. This “killing evil” venture does seem pretty lofty, but Constantine’s not exactly humble when it comes to saving the world. I mean, when you get right down to it, he’s not really even a good guy, per se. Which is what makes him so fascinating. Pairing him with the likes of these other anti-heroes is not only great storytelling, but makes for a realistic and compelling narrative. Which is pretty hard to do, when you consider the overall subject matter. The idea of the Question bailing on the team proves that there’s a lot more to him than we as the readers know and the scene with Pandora and the Phantom Stranger looking at his past sins (and joys) was particularly touching. It will be great to see more of their collective back stories fleshed out as this event goes on.
The best part of this series isn’t the John Constantine antics, though. As much as I love him, he’s already got a series of his own. Actually, counting JLD, he’s got two. No, the strength of this book (other than the amazing script by the timeless DeMatteis and the great pencils of Blanco) is actually the characterization of the Phantom Stranger himself. He was always somewhat of a throwaway character pre-New 52. Now he’s not only interesting, but on his way to becoming one of my favorites. I can’t wait to see where this event takes him and what he does after shit really hits the fan in the issues to come.
My Rating: 4.5/5