Justice League Dark: Jeff Lemire, Lee Garbett, Cam Smith, Jack Purcell, Scott Hanna, Walden Wong, Pete Pantazis, Rob Leigh, Ryan Sook
Here’s the story of not only John Constantine, but of Zatanna as well. There’s also the added treat of finding out who our mystery villain is from issue #12. That’s a trifecta of awesome for this Zero Issue. Jeff Lemire has been showing us some really awesome stuff in his last few issues of JLD, and he continues to build a great story with great characters. They’re flawed, and feel very much real.
Constantine is much younger in this issue, and - thankfully - looks so on the page. He comes to New York to learn from the best there is in the magical community: Nick Necro. So my fears from last ish, of not knowing the person pulling Faust’s strings, have been realized. I don’t even think Nick Necro existed much in the preboot world of Vertigo’s Hellblazer. It’s been a while since I’ve read my Hellblazer comics.
He finds him in the Oblivion Bar. Again, I can’t remember if those entry cards to get into the club were used a whole lot in the Hellblazer comics…I want to say I remember seeing them somewhere…but it’s a nice nod to the Constantine movie, at the very least. Yeah, I remember that thing better than the comics sometimes. Thank god I at least know he’s British (unlike Keanu), and that the name is pronounced like rhyming with “turpentine” and not “serpentine.” (Tyne, not teen)
This is also where Constantine first meets Zatanna, and he falls hard for her. Too bad she’s Nicky’s girl. Turns out that doesn’t matter much. But anyway, the three become a coven, working together as a family of magical ass-kickers who take on the Cult of the Blue Flame. These guys mean business, and target Nick as well as Zatanna’s magical guru father, Zatara.
Now, I have to talk about some slight spoilers here to explain my one main frustration with this issue. Nick gets way into finding the Books of Magic and starts ignoring Zatanna. So, Constantine and Zatanna share a kiss. That’s it. Just a kiss. Just so happens that, during that kiss, Nick walks up and sees them. He takes it as this huge betrayal and now plans the deaths of both Constantine and Zatanna. …Really, dude? This whole thing about revenge, and it being personal with Constantine in JLD #12 is because he kissed your girl?
That seems really weak. He seems to be going through a lot of trouble. Now, if he had walked in on them having sex, THEN I’d understand his ferocity, his attitude. I know how that feels. But a kiss? That barely seems harmful, especially if he’d been ignoring his girl he’d been so keen on earlier in the issue. But, on the other hand, Nick is pretty alpha-dog personality…much like Constantine. It’s actually kind of expected for him to overreact.
Lee Garbett’s pencils are fantastic. It’s definitely a different style than Janin’s from the main series, but this ish looks great! There’s a realism in the cartoon-like appearance of the characters. I love the expressions everyone makes. Also, I noticed an absence of definition on Constantine’s stomach on the panel where he’s on the phone with Nick. Not a lot of artists draw it just plain like that. They’ve gotta throw in the ab lines, which is unrealistic in that position. Pantazis handles colors, which are excellent, and really make the magic come alive. I love the panels of Nick meditating, and the blue tint in the last pages.
Justice League Dark #0, the verdict: A cool origin for these three characters that shows us a definite relationship, and clear, if not possibly weak motivation for the villain. I can understand that Nick’s mad about being sent to Hell, but he kind of did that to himself, if you think about it. I know that no villain ever sees it that way, but the way both this ish and issue #12 make it sound is that Nick’s upset about Constantine stealing his girl, not sending him to Hell. Also, was anyone else thinking that “rune circle binding people to Hell” thing was going to be the New 52 explanation of Hell wanting Constantine’s soul? Or is it still a cancer thing? Has that happened yet?
(Photo Source: DC Comics)