STORY: Jeff Lemire
ART: Mikel Janin
After a stellar reboot of the team in Justice League Dark #9, Jeff Lemire hits the brakes hard this month and brings readers an issue mostly full of technical details. The team has a new objective, which means they need to regroup and figure out a plan of action. Steve Trevor originally asked John Constantine to retrieve the map to the Books of Magic, but after discussing the Books’ power, the team rethinks handing over the source of all magic power to the US government. But where to go that’s hidden and safe? The House of Mystery, of course.
Constantine leads the group to the House of Mystery, which is situated at the crossroads of the mystical multiverse, to go off the grid while they figure out how to keep the location of the Books safe. A fun side story involves Deadman possessing Black Orchid, since Orchid’s only involvement with the group is via Steve Trevor, the man they’re now trying to avoid. Doctor Mist objects on the grounds that he too is an A.R.G.U.S. agent and a subordinate of Trevor, but he understands the importance of their new mission, and he’s sure Black Orchid will understand as well. Mist doesn’t have much of a personality beyond ‘mysterious new character’, but it’s still nice to see an old school character coming out of the woodwork.
Andrew Bennett leaves, but Constantine uses this exit to explain that by accepting his initial invitation into the House of Mystery – which he “owns” – every member of the team is now bound to the House and can be recalled to it whenever Constantine desires. Zatanna’s anger is exacerbated by the fact that the members of the team would have entered anyway, that deception wasn’t necessary. I’m a little worried that John Constantine is turning into a big douchebag. It’s one thing to be an asshole – apparently, people accept that some people just live their lives negatively. But it’s a whole other matter when Constantine starts blackmailing and taking advantage of his own teammates. I understand the desire to make old Johnny a badass – he’s a character that’s always been reliable in that role. It makes no sense, however, to use him as the universal scapegoat for heroism wrapped in deceptive means. Basically, Constantine shouldn’t always be the total anti-hero.
Madame Xanadu pops up to have another vision then whine about how no one listens to her. Xanadu really isn’t that interesting in Justice League Dark. It seems in the centuries separating her current person from her younger self – in the pages of Demon Knights – have turned her into something of a lump on a log with premonitions of the future. It’s unfortunate for characters who see into the future, but they rarely get developed beyond they gift of foresight. This is Xanadu’s problem as a narrative character: she’s solely based on her visions of apocalyptic futures.
The segue into the next issue begins when the team attempts to open the map to the Books of Magic, tripping a mystical lock on the map set by Felix Faust! Soon, the team is attacked by the Demons Three who are indentured slaves under Faust’s command. The demons attack quickly before teleporting into an A.R.G.U.S. facility where Steve Trevor is interrogating Faust. This ‘ah-ha’ moment comes when the team realizes that Faust wanted to be in A.R.G.U.S. so his demons could help him break into the Black Room, the warehouse filled with all the mystical artifacts collected by the US government over the years.