Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A Justice League For People Who Aren't Into Superheroes

I spend every Friday night at the local comic shop, hanging out while my son and boyfriend play in a weekly Magic: The Gathering tournament.  (For long-time readers, yes, I quit playing months ago.  I still think it's great, but every new set release drives the game into more and more ridiculously complicated territory.  I still have no idea what the hell "cloud shift" does.)  Anyway, as long as you're a person who enjoys bright colors and fantasy themes, and who isn't, you'll never be bored in a comic shop.  Lately, while the boys play in the tournament, I've been particularly distracted by the DC rack, as there is a lot of interesting stuff happening there these days:  good art, good story ideas, and good writing.  I'm already religiously following the Before Watchmen collection of titles. All of the controversy should be put to rest on that front, in my opinion, by the way.  Every title in that group is excellently done.  The only one that seems kind of pointless is Dr. Manhattan, because his backstory was already thoroughly covered in the original.  But anyway....

Last Friday night, I decided to try Justice League Dark.  I've been eyeing that title for months.  At first, what I could glean from the covers alone kind of confused me.  I assumed from the name that it must be an offshoot of Justice League, probably involving peripheral superheroes who never came out from under the looming shadows of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc...  I was sort of close.  Justice League Dark involves a group of established DC characters, some of which have, indeed, been involved with the Justice League, who have been commissioned by the government to deal with paranormal issues that fall outside of the realm of expertise of the average superhero.  The team is made up of magicians and sorcerers, a ghost, a vampire, a shapeshifter....and the stories involve ancient magical objects, demons and tree gods etc, and lots and lots of magic-based battling.

If you're interested in getting started with this title, an excellent place to begin is Issue #9:

At this point in the series, a new story arc begins, and new team members are introduced.  You don't have to go back to #1 to understand what's happening.  This particular story (which is still ongoing) has pedigree, as well:  Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic series is directly referenced.  The plot revolves around it, in fact.

Justice League Dark's artwork is very high-quality, at least for this story arc, anyway.  I hope it stays that way.  Mikel Janin has a talent for facial expressions that especially stands out.  My favorite example of this is Doctor Mist, whose face beautifully broadcasts the sadness and loss driving every decision he makes.  The layouts are also amazing:

Click to embiggen!

Click to embiggen!

I'd love to see more people get into this comic, if only so that DC doesn't cancel it and make it impossible for me to collect it long-term.  Comics are awesome, people!  Just as good as regular books, and a whole hell of a lot more colorful!  Support your local comic shop!


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