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Justice League Dark #4

In the Dark Part Four: By the Light of the Moon

Written by Peter Milligan

Art by Mikel Janin

Review by Bobby Shortle

Confused; that’s the word that comes tumbling out of my mouth when I try to explain my feelings on Justice League Dark.  Oddly, it has crossed my mind that it may be intentionally confusing. That maybe writer Peter Milligan is trying to structure his plots to match his obscure and off beat characters. Normally I would write this off as utter bull but it’s a feeling I just can’t shake. Why do I have such a bugaboo with this theory? Because while the plotting is muddled; the style and tone of the writing is incredibly good.  

Milligan imbues each word with a sense of weight that expresses the tone of Justice League Dark continuously throughout it’s 20 odd pages. He wants you to know that what is happening is deadly serious and there isn’t a moment you forget it. He has also set up intriguing vignettes for his characters that each have their own small plot arc. Deadman is protecting June Moone, Constantine is attempting to get to the bottom of the disturbance, Zatanna is set to face down enchantress and Madame Xanadau is fighting the demons of her power and a drug addiction. Each of these mini stories is well written and engaging in their own rights. They are also what is killing the book for me. 

There are so many disperate narratives occurring at once that it’s nearly impossible to sieve out the main plot thread anymore. I have no clearer understanding in issue #4 than I did in issue #1 of what exactly is happening with Enchantress and only a slight inkling of what the entire June Moone storyline is all about. To make things even more confusing I’m pretty sure there are a few unannounced time jumps that leap our narrative into some recent future. Then again I could be totally off about this as the characters in question all have ways of traveling to far off places almost instantaneously. Either way it is hard for me to reconcile the lack of clarity in the timeline. This maze like plot stands as my most serious issue with the book.

Justice League Dark is a comic I want to love. Its macabre aesthetics, excellent tone and fascinating characters are the exact kind of thing I go for. What I do not go for is the idea that I will eventually need a document separate from the comic book itself to help me decode the plot. JLD needs to get some focus quick or it will be off my pull list for good.

VERDICT

Skip It – There is an unfortunate lack of clarity here and it makes the book almost indecipherable. Which is a shame because the art is wonderful and the characters interesting. 

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