Book Review – Justice League Dark vol. 6: Lost in Forever

  • Title: Justice League Dark vol. 6: Lost in Forever
  • Author: JM DeMatteis
  • Artist: Andres Guinaldo
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: John Constantine, Zatanna, Nightmare Nurse, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Frankenstein, Black Orchid, Andrew Bennett (vampire), Madame Xanadu
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/07/2016

**Spoiler Alert** Justice League Dark volume 6 is the last in the collected series so far. The book opens with a dream sequence (showing us the real depth of John Constantine’s feelings for Zatanna) then he wakes up in a confusing, mixed-up, even upside-down strange house. John is in the House of Secrets, and the female manifestation of the House convinces him he must call members of Justice League Dark together to prevent the House of Mystery from engaging in a nefarious plot. Meanwhile in the House of Mystery, Zatanna is pretty much getting the same message from the male manifestation of the House – the House of Secrets is up to something and must be stopped. John and his crew (the House of Secrets, Frank(enstein), the vampire Andrew Bennett, Black Orchid, and Mme Xanadu, soon confront Zatanna, the House of Mystery, Swamp Thing, Nightmare Nurse, and Deadman.

Fortunately, this isn’t a long, drawn-out slug fest. The House of Secrets and the House of Mystery join together and form the House of Wonders – which plans on controlling the world by controlling it’s houses. John and Zatanna decide the only way to stop the disaster is to enact the K’am’Deva curse. This will extract all love for another from one person’s heart from all directions in space and time as if it never existed. While the other person is doomed to remember that lost love for all eternity. John volunteers to give up his love for Zatanna for the greater good. The curse is enacted and it destroys both houses – drawing them away in a whirlpool. But it’s so powerful – all of Justice League Dark is drawn into the whirlpool as well. John is the only one left on Earth, though he later remarks he was on “Earth-2”. Zatanna is taken, alone, to the very beginning of time. There she meets her father, Zatara, and his “wife and daughter”. Zatanna soon realizes this is an illusion – she is alone. And although her mind keeps conjuring illusions to keep her occupied – she breaks through the illusions one by one. Eventually she finds the One Tree and source of all magic.

Meanwhile, Frank, Bennett, Nightmare Nurse, and Swamp Thing end up at the very end of time. They find Felix Faust who has finally obtained immortality and realized it was a curse. The tiny island of Earth they are on is slowly disappearing into the dark of nothingness – so Nightmare Nurse conjures a magical boat and they all sail off in to the Dark.

Meanwhile Mme Xanadu, Deadman, and Black Orchid end up, briefly, in a crystal zone of every moment taking place simultaneously before landing in the Moment of Now which is a time and place that is trapped, in a perpetual Now. There, as Mme Xanadu tries to convey what movement into the future is to a people who have never experienced it – trapped, as they are, in a static moment, lets the leader kiss her. The kiss accelerates the aging – and the entire zone is destroyed. But it also pushes all of Justice League Dark to be reunited – meeting Nightmare Nurse’s boat and Zatanna who at first thinks it’s another illusion. Even John Constantine returns in the House of Mystery – though he says he’s an illusion created by Zatanna’s love.

The entire Justice League Dark confront an evil goddess from before time, Pralaya, released by the Curse. Together John and Zatanna defeat Pralaya and the House of Mystery crash lands on Earth – where they meet John Constantine. Zatanna decides to leave Justice League Dark and returns leadership of the loose group to John as well as giving him back the House of Mystery. It’s clear from the last few panels that John has no memory of what Zatanna meant to him – or of the love he had for her.

Volume 6 satisfactorily wraps-up the story of Justice League Dark but I want more, and I’m guessing the soft-covered versions continued (This graphic collects JLD 35 -40 plus Annual #2 from 2014-2015) and there should be one or two more collected editions to go. Well, I can only hope. I highly recommended this series.

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Book Review – Justice League Dark vol. 5: Paradise Lost

  • Title: Justice League Dark vol. 5: Pardise Lost
  • Author: JM DeMatteis
  • Artist: Mikel Janin
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: John Constantine, Zatanna, Nightmare Nurse, Swamp Thing, Deadman, Frankenstein, Black Orchid, Etrigan the Demon (Jason Blood)
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 11/04/2016

Justice League Dark vol. 5 picks up where Volume 4 left off – with John Constantine having lost the House of Mystery and leadership of Justice League Dark to Zatanna. Deadman finds Constantine in a bar and hits him, seeking to even the score a bit for John’s trapping him in the Sea King. Brand rushes off feeling horrible about what he’s done. Meanwhile at the House of Mystery, Zatanna’s also trying to come to terms with the recent changes, her own increasing power, and her new role as leader – so she’s cut herself off from everyone. Frank(enstein) and Black Orchid tell Deadman they are leaving – the House of Mystery tries to convince them otherwise.

Nightmare Nurse, Asa, falls sick and the entire Justice League Dark learns her backstory. John tries to help Asa return to Alice’s body to save them both, but seeing it as a threat to Alice (Asa’s host) Zatanna gets in the way and Nightmare Nurse possesses her and starts to use her power. John and Asa are pulled into The Between, a metaphysical Limbo. In trying to pull Asa’s spirit from Zatanna – John accidentally sends the entire House of Mystery into The Between. Asa sacrifice’s herself to The Between so the House of Mystery and the Justice League Dark can return to normal space and time. Zatanna uses a very powerful and dangerous spell and rescues Asa – returning Nightmare Nurse to the body of the dying Alice Winter.

This volume also gets into Boston Brand aka Deadman’s background. Brand had been raised and trained in Nanda Parbat – the paradise – from childhood, before being set back in the world. Thus he has a connection to the mystical place. He tries to open a portal to it for Brahma Dass, his teacher, but it backfires and dangerous demons are released to destroy Nanda Parbat. Justice League Dark comes to the rescue, so to speak, and Swamp Thing helps return Nanda Parbat to glory.

Finally, “Scars” seems to be set in the future, with a lone John Constantine reflecting on what’s gone wrong for him, and his betrayals of his friends and colleagues. John and a few members of Justice League Dark, including: Zatanna, Cassandra Craft, Black Orchid, Nightmare Nurse, and Etrigan the Demon; are trapped in the House of Mystery in The Between. They find another trapped survivor, only he isn’t what he claims to be. Etrigan and Zatanna see through the deception – but all the Justice League Dark remains trapped in The Between.

Book Review – Justice League Dark vol. 4: The Rebirth of Evil

  • Title: Justice League Dark vol. 4: The Rebirth of Evil
  • Author: JM DeMatteis, Jeff Lemire
  • Artist: Mikel Janin
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: John Constantine, Zatanna, Justice League, Nightmare Nurse, Swamp Thing, Pandora, Deadman
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/17/2016

**Spoiler Alert** This issue of Justice League Dark opens in the middle of something going on – so I was very confused at first. I felt like I had missed something. Anyway, the Justice League are after Pandora’s Box for some reason – even though every time a Leaguer gets near it – it turns them evil, including Superman. The Phantom Stranger arrives at A.R.G.U.S. to warn everyone of the danger the Box represents. Wonder Woman goes after Pandora’s Box and is infected. Constantine gets the box from Wonder Woman and Zatanna but rather than arrive in London, he and Zatanna arrive at the Temple of Hephaestus and are swallowed underground.

Constantine and his team learn, too late, that Pandora’s Box is a doorway to Earth-3. It allows the Crime Syndicate (evil versions of the Justice League) to invade Earth. The crime syndicate causes all sorts of trouble and, off-stage, even defeats the Justice League.

Meanwhile, with his own team missing, Constantine joins forces with Nightmare Nurse, Swamp Thing, Pandora, and later Deadman, to solve the crisis. Opening Pandora’s box has also released Blight – a distillation of all the worst things about humanity. Defeating Blight requires the Big Guns including the angel, Zauriel. After that, Constantine must rescue his team and other magic-users, all held prisoner in Nanda Parbat. He succeeds but at a high cost.

Justice League Dark is consistently a very good book, and volume 4 is excellent. It’s complex, well-written, and has truly brilliant art. I read the book twice, and still found there to be an awful lot going on. The story isn’t hard to follow – there is just a lot of it. This is a highly recommended book and series. If you haven’t tried Justice League Dark it’s a must read. Volume 4 is the best so far, but don’t start there – this series must be read from the beginning.