In Review: Justice League Dark #20
The cover: The Flash and Swamp Thing do battle against possessed Deadman, Constantine, Xanadu, and Frankenstein. Great cover by interior artist Mikel Janin, but nowhere in this issue. I would’ve liked a brighter cover, such as any blue background instead of this grey. Overall grade: B+
The story: Doctor Destiny is in control of the House of Mystery and Swamp Thing, and is using both to rule New York in Hellish fashion, in Part 2 of Horror City, “The Nightmare Gospel”, by Ray Fawkes & Jeff Lemire. On Page 4, Flash and Frankenstine are confronting the dead offspring of the monster. The Flash goes on the defensive and learns a way to triumph over the creatures that are terrorizing the city. This was neat, but even neater was the realization of what Steve Trevor might have done to the JLD’s members. From then on, it’s time to reunite the team, with Constantine’s rescue being the most difficult. All builds to a neat cliffhanger of one word that was surprising and cool. But that’s what I’ve come to expect from this book, and I’m happily continuing to get it! Overall grade: A+
The art: This was a mixed bag for me. It seemed at times that two distinct styles were at work; sometimes working, sometimes not so much. Mikel Janin provided the layouts, while Vincente Cifuentes provided the finishes. The artwork on Page 1 is great, as is the double-paged splash on Pages 2 and 3, but the later looked so different from the former that it disrupted my reading. Same thing with Pages 7 and 8–which are so murky I felt as though I was missing something important in the art. One page really stood out: 20. The first four panels look completely different from the last panel–blurry to focused. Blurry art can be used appropriately for different storytelling effects, but all I got was “rush job” from this page. A better balance between both artists has occurred before, so what happened with this issue? Overall grade: B-
The colors: The artwork impacted what Jeromy Cox was allowed to do. When the art was crisp and clean, the colors were stellar. But when the art got murky, so did the colors. The double-paged spread’s dark clouds look as though they were used to cover up poor or missing artwork. And on Pages 7 and 8 it just seemed sloppy. Overall grade: C
The letters: Nothing bad, only praise for Rob Leigh’s work this issue, who continues to hit home runs with each story’s elaborate title. Overall grade: A+
The final line: I’d like this more if I could see what was going on. Overall grade: B
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comics Buyers Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years, and only recently has been teaching 9th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.