(p) Graham Nolan and Vitor Drujiniu
Often, comic book writers will waste little time in moving from one story arc to the next. One of the best examples of this phenomenon was Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Ultimate Spider-Man, a series that saw a young Peter Parker battling one foe after the other for quite some time. Eventually, Bendis started to add side stories and smaller arcs, but for the most part, his structure of constant action stayed true. Jeff Lemire, on the other hand, seems to be taking the opposite approach to Justice League Dark, a series that he pulled up from being a rather weak ‘New 52’ title to being one of the best. Justice League Dark #14 is the interlude between the recently-completed “War for the Books of Magic” and the upcoming “The Death of Magic” that will find the JLD searching for Zatanna and Tim Hunter, as well as weathering a war between the Trinity of Sin….Trinity War, anybody?
Justice League Dark #14 is split into two narratives that each contain vital information going forward for the team and the series, et al. First, we focus on John Constantine, Deadman, and Steve Trevor as they attempt to understand how the Books of Magic aren’t magic-based at all. Meanwhile, Black Orchid has convinced both Amethyst and Frankenstein to explore the House of Mystery with her. The narrative of JLD#14 isn’t particularly amazing or outstanding, but it conveys what’s happening and for an issue that’s supposed to bridge to story arcs, that’s all it really needs to do. Yes, we do get some character development — Constantine’s anger at the prospect of not having Zatanna back for a long, long time — but that’s not the point of “Enter the House of Mystery”.
Rather, for Constantine, Deadman, and Trevor, the point is finding two missing people, while the reason for Black Orchid, Frankenstein, and Amethyst’s journey comes to a head near the end of the issue when Orchid finds a room filled with personal and private information about many of the world’s operating super-people. This is probably the best sequence of the issue, as Black Orchid scans over Constantine’s notes about the Justice League, Stormwatch, and various other heroes, revealing some information we already knew (“The Rot is Rising” and “New GL: Terrorist or worse?”) along with a lot we didn’t know (“Frankenstein: Connection to the Rot? Possible ‘cure’ for it?”, “Cyborg: Red Room!”, and “Adam One: Is he the Big M?”).
Overall, Justice League Dark #14 is a bridge issue that suffers only because it’s the starting point for a lot of plot going forward, meaning it’s an issue filled with questions with positively no answers. And even then, there’s something exciting about being given a whole load of new mysteries to ponder as we wait for the next issue. Jeff Lemire is writing one hell of a series and I’ll be sad to see him leave once he takes on Green Arrow in a few months.