Thursday 8 August 2013

Justice League Dark Annual #1 Review

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mikel Janin

With all the nice things getting said about this series since Jeff Lemire took over writing duties since issue 9, combined with the release of the new Constantine series, I decided to get the back issues of this, and boy am I happy I have. It's been phenomenal, and one of the most unique series I've seen in the New 52, and I'm glad I've given it a try.


After The House of Mystery crashed in the Sahara the remaining of the Justice League Dark regroup, and with the help of Frankenstein and Amethyst they to Nanda Parbat to confront Nick Necro.


This was a brilliant issue, and like the entire series it was outstanding. With this being the end of the War for the Books of Magic storyline I was expecting something amazing, and I wasn't disappointed. Jeff Lemire once again gives an amazing issue, and with this being the final issue in his first big story on the series he's went big, chucking everything bar the kitchen sink into this issue. I've enjoyed everything that I've read from Lemire, and although some of the stuff has been better than others, it's all been fantastic, and I can't believe I hadn't found his work before. Lemire has managed to do everything that I love from a comic in this issue, as it's very dark, whilst also being fun, and exciting, and also having lots of emotion. It also has some amazing appearances in this issue with former JLD members appearing, and new members joining, but I'll talk more about that later on in my review. Lemire also did a brilliant job of bringing all the side stories in this story together to make a conclusion that was nothing short of phenomenal.

The art in this issue was fantastic, and Mikel Janin once again shows me why I love his art. I have never seen Janin's art prior to this series, but since reading the few issues that I have I've been loving it, and it really suits this style of series. I love that his art is very smooth, with everything being so neat, and the lines being very sharp. Janin also does a brilliant job of drawing the characters, as no matter who he draws, whether someone he usually draws like Constantine, or one of the new additions Frankenstein, everyone looks amazing. The detail in Janin's artwork is also fantastic, as everything looks perfect, with even the minor details being brilliant. The characters emotions, and expressions are also fantastic, as again they all look amazing, with nothing looking awkward, or poor, and you can really feel the characters emotions. I've also really enjoyed Janin's layouts throughout this series, as besides the panel layouts he's managed to position the characters perfectly, giving a very dramatic feel to the art. Once again Ulises Arreola adds amazing colours to this series, and I've always thought that the coulours suit this series, giving the right tone, and moood the series needs. Arreola's colours also helps make Janin's art look even better than it already is, as it makes it stand out.

This issue starts with John Constantine, Black Orchid, Deadman, and N'aall climbing out of the wreckage of the House of Mystery, and they land up bumping into Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Now I don't know a lot about the Frankenstein character that's appeared in DC Comics over the years, but I do know that he featured in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory series, as well as Lemire's Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. series. I've not heard any bad or good things about the series that Lemire worked on, but I assume that it couldn't have done well after he left, as it got cancelled, but due to loving the rest of Lemire's work, as well as being interested in the character I'll probably get the trade volumes. I got interested in the character after seeing him in Rotworld, and I'm happy that he features in this series now, I knew he featured in the series before buying it, but you never know till you see it. I also loved how Constantine moaned about all his cigarettes being broken at the start of this sequence, finding it quite funny.

We also got some more background story involving how Necro became so fascinated with the Books of Mystery, and how he quested to get it, even finding The Eight-Dimensional Map with the giant bones of Mordru. It was nice to get more background on the character, as although I'm already liking him as a villain, he's still a new character that needs development. I also liked that at the same time you get a bit more background on the origin of the map, which was created by Mordru, and Merlin, without it taking away from the Necro flashback. It was also interesting that this flashback also shows how Necro met Faust, and how they began to hatch their plan. What I think made this entire sequence better was that Necro was telling it to Zatanna, who was ties to a chair, in a smug manour, and he'd already felt that he'd won, and that telling Zatanna everything was just like poring salt into the wound, but either way, it was an interesting flashback.

My favourite thing about the issue however had to be all the added appearances. I already mentioned Frankenstein, but this issue also featured Amethys, who at the time recently got a series in the form of, Sword of Sorcery, and former JLD member Andrew Bennett, who appeares in I, Vampire (although both these series are now being cancelled). These added appearances, along with all the other members of the JLD, apart from Zatanna coming together for the first time since I started reading the book was fantastic, and really added a lot of excitement to the series, as well as the story. I also think that the addition of these characters adds more variety to the JLD, and that it will make them stronger, as well as more dynamic. Another thing I liked about this sequence was that it talked about Madame Xanadu's vision, and how Tim Hunter is destined to wield the Books of Magic. I won't go into detail as to avoid spoilers, but this added so much more to the sequence, and besides making it very interesting, it also helped develop the story closer to it's end.

Although the added appearances were my favourite thing about the issue, the fight between the JLD against Necro, Faust, Mist, and their goons was the most exciting. It was always going to happen, and when it finally came, all I could think of was how epic it was. Again I won't go into a lot of detail as to avoid spoilers, but it was one of the best fights I've seen, and visual wise it was phenomenal, and Janin really excelled himself here, as despite already producing amazing art, he produced something even better with this sequence. I also liked the overall mentality of the characters in this fight, from both sides, as Necro assumed that he'd win no matter what, and everyone else also assumed that Constantine would do something rash. Besides the excitement in this fight, it also had a lot of suspense, and some really shocking moments, and it was overall very dramatic, and I can't think of a better way to end such a wonderful story.

Final Verdict

The best conclusion to the War for the Books of Magic story that I could ever ask for, this was a brilliant issue that had some amazing appearances, adding new members to the JLD. Lemire has done a phenomenal job throughout this story, and I'm really looking forward to the next story, ans seeing what he can do next. I would easily recommend this issue, as well as the entire series, as it's been a truly epic read.

Rating: 5/5

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