DC Comics, 20 pages, $ 2.99
In theory, this type of book should be right up Peter Milligan’s alley: not quite your average mainstream superhero thing, but still well within shouting distance of the mainstream. When Mr. Milligan was writing Marvel’s X-Force (later X-Statix), this proved to be quite a winning formula.
In Justice League Dark, though, not so much. As the title suggests, this is meant to be Vertigo version of the Justice League, basically, set on the dark fringes of the DC Universe—although the book doesn’t yet get to the point where there’s actually a group, and that’s part of the problem here.
The first bunch of pages do a good job setting up the story and establishing an eerie, X-Files-type mood: A woman, evidently disoriented, walks down the street, enters a diner and discovers that there are dozens of her, for some reason. The subsequent double-page spread, showing a busy interchange with multiple accidents occurring at high speed, is certainly something. I don’t recall having seen anything like this in a comic, and that’s always a plus. It’s good, haunting stuff.
But from there, things go downhill. Rather than to pick a focus character and show me what’s interesting about them, Milligan starts to switch from one disjointed scene to the next, introducing one character after another. And there’s not much to sink your teeth into in those pages upon pages of dreary set-up. Yes, I was expecting Shade and Zatanna and John Constantine to show up, sooner or later. Here, it feels like they’re just thrown into the story at random. And what’s that sequence with the Justice League meant to achieve?
Mikel Janin’s art tells the story competently for the most part, and there are a one or two points—such as the aforementioned interchange spread—where he really goes to town. That said, though, it’s very apparent that Mr. Janin uses the computer a lot. His characters rarely look alive, and the poses and facial expressions have a rather static and synthetic quality.
There’s a lot going on in this book, but so far, it doesn’t add up to much. A pretty underwhelming start.