As part of DC's New 52 reboot, someone decided that all of the magic based characters who had been in the Vertigo line for years were suddenly fair game again for the DCU. The result of that decision is felt largely in the new Swamp Thing series and here in Justice League Dark #1.
This is the book that is apparently going to gather the eclectic cast of Zatanna, John Constantine, Shade The Changing Man and Deadman together under the guidance of Madame Xanadu. I say "apparently" because there is no team yet by the end of the first issue, just the notion that these characters are going to come together and possibly meet a dark fate.
Although the actual Justice League does make an appearance with most of their major players, calling this book a spinoff of the Justice League strikes me as more of a marketing decision than anything called for within the story itself. But then a comic using the Justice League Dark title will probably sell better than one called Shadowpact; which was a DC magic based comic book series that I really enjoyed a few years ago.
The first issue actually revolves around a threat presented by the Enchantress, one of the lead characters from Shadowpact (and Suicide Squad before that). Somehow, the Enchantress appears to have split off her civilian persona, June Moone into several identical copies who have been getting themselves killed en mass by walking into traffic and other dangerous activities. Meanwhile, her actual self seems to either stuck in a lethal magic trap or the cause of some strange and violent supernatural phenomena taking place all over the world.
When Superman, Wonder Woman and Cyborg attempt to investigate and subdue the Enchantress, they fall prey to her storm cloud of witches' teeth (that was not a joke) and they are not seen again afterwards.
Which brings us back to the main cast. Zatanna is convinced that it's a threat that only she can handle, so she magically binds Batman in order to confront it herself. Her future teammate, Shade ends up arguing with the closest thing he has to a lover while Deadman and Constantine get only two pages of introduction between them.
Thus far, Madame Xanadu appears to be the most intriguing cast member, as she has a pretty big secret that she's hiding from her potential partners. She's Machiavellian, but in an almost benevolent way.
Writer Peter Milligan also seems to have the right mix of a standard DC superhero story and a creepy Vertical style horror story. Some of the events occurring offscreen sound very horrific and the book might be better served if it actually expands upon those occurrences. Justice League Dark also seems to be frustratingly vague about what's causing Enchantress to become such a threat that not even the Justice League can stand up to her. With a little more focus on its cast and story, it could correct that quickly within the next issue.
Mikel Janin's art is very strong and his figure work is impressive. His female faces need a little more variety, bit overall Janin's pages stand out as one of the primary draws of this book. There's a lot of potential in Justice League Dark and I'm willing to stick around for a while and see where it goes.
Crave Online Rating: 7/10