What happens when John Constantine's bag of tricks runs out?
Justice League Dark #13
(Jeff Lemire, Mikel Janin, Victor Drujiniu)
The team faces one of their greatest threats yet as Constantine and Zatanna’s mentor returns from hell in search of the Books of Magic, along with a little payback as well. Madame Xanadu deals with the return of an old ally as well as an old foe. Will the team stand together, or divided will they fall?
The story picks up right after issue #12 with the team separated to chase after the Books of Magic. Madame Xanadu is busy confronting Felix Faust and rescuing Timothy Hunter, Deadman and Zatanna are trying to contain a living jungle, Constantine and Black Orchid are fighting a giant fire demon thing. The group reunites when they realize they’ve been led on a wild goose chase. A brief fight with Nick Necro, Constantine and Zatanna’s old friend and mentor, and the recently-turned-traitor Doctor Mist leads to a chase between the House of Secrets (bad guys) and the House of Mystery (good guys).
Stories involving magic can be a little confusing at times, but so far I haven’t had too many moments that made me stop and ask, “Wait, what’s going on?”. Granted, I have read the whole series up to this point, but honestly there isn’t too much about this issue that is overly backstory-sensitive. Xanadu’s section of the story does require a bit of digging into previous issues if you haven’t followed, but the main story is fairly accessible which is something that all series should try to be, in my opinion.
I love the art style of this series. The backgrounds have an eerie ethereal look to them; they look like watercolor paintings done by an artist of the occult. Characters are given a great deal of character through their facial expressions, something I appreciate. Nick Necro looks like even more of a bastard than Constantine, which is something that is hard to achieve. Something else I’ve noticed is how magic is represented. In general, spells look like different colors of lightning depending on the user (Madame Xanadu’s magic is purple, Deadman’s flight is red, and so on). It may be simple and look like that one scene in Return of the Jedi, but with something as tricky as magic is to give shape, sometimes a simple solution is best. This is a series I’m happy I’ve picked back up. I give this issue 7 trenchcoats out of 10.