Justice League Dark
DC has always been pretty dark, especially in comparison to Marvel. I’ve always appreciated DC’s dark twisted style, and am a huge fan of the Justice League.
If you don’t know what Justice League Dark is, your in for a treat. They are a darker chapter of the Justice League that consist of some really odd occult type characters. They are basic on call to take on the weird stuff the main Justice League doesn’t want to deal with.
There have been many animated DC animated movies released over the last decade or so, ranging from great to eh. JLD definitely looks like it has the potential to be one of the better ones. So lets check out the facts for a better explanation of this dark team.
Video & Image Source – Zero Media
The Justice League Dark, or JLD, is a fictional superhero team that appears in comic books published by DC Comics. First appearing in Justice League Dark #1 (September 2011), the Justice League Dark originally featured John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, Shade, the Changing Man and Zatanna. The team consists of the more supernatural members of the DC Universe, handling situations deemed unfit for the traditional Justice League.
Justice League Dark was announced on May 31, 2011 as a First Wave title of The New 52. The title and team was created by Peter Milligan, with art by Mikel Janín. The title launched on September 28, 2011. The title brought several of DC Comics’ occult and offbeat characters, something which had been a trait of sister imprint Vertigo, back into the main DC Universe following Vertigo’s editorial change to publish purely new, creator owned content.
The Search for Swamp Thing, a three part miniseries released between June and August 2011 which led up to The New 52 relaunch, and followed the events of the Brightest Day maxi-series, follows Constantine’s search for the resurrected Alec Holland as the new Swamp Thing, involving the cooperation of Batman, Zatanna and Superman. In addition, the Flashpoint: Secret Seven miniseries, written by Milligan as part of the “Flashpoint” crossover storyline, included Enchantress and Shade and introduced the character Mindwarp in the lead-up to the start of the series.
Peter Milligan stated in an interview that he got the job for the book from his work on the 2011 Flashpoint: Secret Seven miniseries, and that he hoped to write something “emotionally dark” set in the DC Universe, comparing his characters to detectives, who struggle to cope with the things they see and have to do. The initial anticipation for this title has been good, with critics celebrating the fact that DC are willing to bring back some of the darker elements which had moved over to Vertigo in the 1990s.
The opening storyline involves Enchantress’ defeat of the Justice League, leading to the necessity of a more supernatural team to assist in these events, and detailing how they have come together. There is also a minor crossover story with I…Vampire. From issue nine, Sweet Tooth and Animal Man writer Jeff Lemire became the principal writer on the series. In his first story arc, the Justice League Dark took residence in their new base, at the House of Mystery, and have started to show their links with the wider DC Universe, dealing with Steve Trevor and A.R.G.U.S.
In August 2013, it was announced that J. M. DeMatteis would take over as series writer from Lemire in November 2013, after a solo issue by Ray Fawkes in October.
Early in the run, Peter Milligan stated that he was, “ruling no-one out” for future appearances, amid speculation that both Ragman and The Spectre may feature in future comics. However, writer Jeff Lemire did not include either during the series, having added Black Orchid and Frankenstein, among others, to the team.
All members joined in issue 1 unless otherwise noted.
- Andrew Bennett – A centuries-old vampire from the title I, Vampire. Becomes a member of Justice League Dark as a favor to Constantine and is forcibly induced permanently by him. Left the team in issue 14, rejoined in issue 35.
- Black Orchid – A new shapeshifting version of Black Orchid. Revealed to be Alba Garcia, an A.R.G.U.S. Agent who worked under Col. Steve Trevor. Joined in issue 9. She was captured as part of Project Thaumaton for the Crime Syndicate. Left the team in issue 30.
- Doctor Mist – The A.R.G.U.S supernatural expert and consultant, he is tasked alongside Black Orchid to keep watch on Constantine. He is later revealed to be a spy working for Felix Faust. He tries to redeem himself by opening a portal to another dimension to save Tim Hunter and Zatanna. Joined in issue #9 and left the team after it was revealed he was working for Faust in issue 11.
- Frankenstein – An erudite creature created by Viktor Frankenstein, Frankenstein first assists the team in the Justice League Dark Annual #1. He chooses to stay with the team in issue 14, out of a sense of responsibility towards Zatanna and Tim Hunter. He was captured as part of Project Thaumaton for the Crime Syndicate. Left the team in issue 30.
- John Constantine – A working class Liverpudlian magician. Originally from Swamp Thing and protagonist of long running Vertigo title Hellblazer. Became the leader of the group in issue 9. Ousted as team leader in issue 30, and replaced by Zatanna.
- Deadman – The ghost of an assassinated acrobat who can possess the bodies of the dead. Originally featured in Strange Adventures #205. More recently featured in Blackest Night and Brightest Day. Constantine found him soon after he was lost after the Crime Syndicate appeared, bound to the Sea King.
- Madame Xanadu – A mystic and fortune teller. Originally featured in Doorway to Nightmare. More recently featured in One Year Later and Flashpoint. She has previously dealt with John Constantine in the plot of Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic miniseries, where their relationship is fraught, as he has deceived her in the past. She brought the team together. She was captured as part of Project Thaumaton for the Crime Syndicate.
- Mindwarp – An original character created by Peter Milligan for Flashpoint. In the event, he was a member of the Secret Seven. Jay Young is a man who possesses the powers of telepathy and astral projection. He may be aware of the Fourth Wall as evidenced by his reading Peter Milligan’s Secret Seven mini-series and the Flashpoint title Deadman and the Flying Graysons. Introduced in issue 3 and left in issue 5. He is killed in Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger #15 by Felix Faust and Nick Necro during testing of Project Thaumaton.
- Nightmare Nurse – Joined to help fight Blight during Forever Evil. A mysterious woman capable of healing even the most grievous mystical or supernatural wounds. Tried to clone Swamp Thing to help the JLD but the clone died leaving the real Swamp Thing in its place. Her name may be Asa.
- Pandora – One of the Trinity of Sin, joined to help fight Blight during “Forever Evil”. She unleashed the Seven Sins on Earth and has been fighting them for thousands of years. Her Box was a gateway that let the Crime Syndicate come from Earth-3. She is the mysterious figure who appeared at the end of Flashpoint when then the DC, Vertigo, and Wildstorm universes merged into one. She later appeared throughout the DC Universe, seemingly observing all the characters. Left the team in issue 29.
- The Phantom Stranger – One of the Trinity of Sin, joined to help fight Blight during “Forever Evil”.
- Princess Amaya of House Amethyst – A fantasy princess from the world of Nilaa, and the main character of the Sword of Sorcery series. She is summoned to Earth in an effort to reconnect Tim Hunter with magic in the Justice League Dark Annual #1. Last seen with the team in issue 14. Afterwards, she returned to Nilaa.
- Raven – A half demon half human hybrid who is the daughter of Trigon who was recruited by Zatanna to join the team in Forever Evil. She was in the Secret Seven in Flashpoint along with Zatanna.
- Shade, the Changing Man – A hero with the power to warp reality. Originally featured in his own title, by Steve Ditko, and was later ‘rebooted’ in Peter Milligan’s run on the series in the late 80s and early 90s. He was featured in a crossover event in Hellblazer in 2010, also written by Peter Milligan, although it is unclear if this will affect events in this title. He was also a member of the Secret Seven during the Flashpoint storyline. He is tasked with bringing the team together at the behest of Madame Xanadu. Left the team in issue 8 after losing control of the M-Vest.
- Swamp Thing – First assisted the team in the “Horror City” storyline, issues 19-21, and continues to aid them in their fight against Blight.
- Timothy Hunter – First introduced in issue 11, Timothy is a boy destined to wield and open the Books of Magic. He gave up his magic to save his father, but it was brought back when he shook Amethyst’s hand. Timothy decides to stays in the alternate dimension as a wizard-king with his father, at the end of issue 18.
- Zatanna – A stage magician. First appeared in Hawkman #4 (November 1964), many other appearances, in 2010 had a solo series, was part of the Secret Seven during Flashpoint. She has previously been romantically involved with John Constantine. After assisting the Justice League during the “Throne of Atlantis” storyline, she sides with the JL again in issue 22 for “Trinity War”. Left the Justice League Dark after issue 18. She was captured as part of Project Thaumaton for the Crime Syndicate. She became the leader of the team in issue 30.
- Zauriel – An angel who is a guardian of Heaven. He joined to help fight Blight during “Forever Evil”.
The series has been collected into the following trade paperbacks:
- Justice League Dark Vol. 1: In the Dark (Justice League Dark #1–6)
- Justice League Dark Vol. 2: The Books of Magic (Justice League Dark #0, #7–13, Annual #1)
- I, Vampire Vol. 2: Rise of the Vampires (Justice League Dark #7–8 and I, Vampire #7–12)
- Justice League Dark Vol. 3: The Death of Magic (Justice League Dark #14–21)
- Justice League: Trinity War (Justice League Dark #22-23, plus Justice League Vol. 2 #22–23, Justice League of America Vol. 3 #6–7, Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger Vol. 4 #11, Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1–3)
- Forever Evil: Blight (Justice League Dark #24–29, Constantine #9–12, Trinity of Sin: Pandora #6–9, Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #14–17)
- Justice League Dark Vol. 4: The Rebirth of Evil (Justice League Dark #22–29)
- Justice League Dark Vol. 5: Paradise Lost (Justice League Dark #30–34, Justice League Dark: Futures End #1)
- Justice League Dark Vol. 6: Lost in Forever (Justice League Dark Annual #2, #35–40)
In other media
Members of the team were scheduled to appear in an episode of Constantine. The series was cancelled before they could be featured.
Rumors in November 2012 suggested that Guillermo del Toro was working on a Justice League Dark film titled Heaven Sent. It would feature Deadman, the Spectre, Swamp Thing, John Constantine, Phantom Stranger, Zatanna, Zatara, Sargon the Sorcerer, and Etrigan the Demon. Del Toro later confirmed in January 2013 that he is working on such a film, with the working title, Dark Universe, and was hiring a screenwriter. Del Toro revealed Swamp Thing, Constantine, The Spectre, Deadman, Zatanna and Zatara were characters in the story.
In March 2013, del Toro gave an update on the film at WonderCon 2013, while talking about his film Pacific Rim. He revealed that the story bible was complete and he hoped to start the screenplay soon. Production would begin after his next project, Crimson Peak. The film’s story would center around John Constantine recruiting Swamp Thing, Etrigan the Demon, Deadman, Spectre, and Zatanna. The film would not be an origin story, with each character already established and elements of their backstory coming into play throughout the film. Del Toro also revealed that Floronic Man will be in the film. In May 2013, del Toro revealed that his script features Constantine, Swamp Thing, Madame Xanadu, Deadman and Zatanna as the team, with other “in the mix”. He also revealed that he was still waiting for the go-ahead from Warner Bros. Pictures. Del Toro revealed in July 2013 that he hopes the DC Extended Universe, which started with Man of Steel, will become as cohesive as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he added that if there was any correlation to that universe and this film, he would honor it.
In October 2013, del Toro stated he felt his film would be able to coexist with the television series, Constantine and reiterated that the film was still active and in the writing process. In July 2014, del Toro once again stated he was working on the film, and stated it would be independent from the universe established with Man of Steel, saying, “DC and Warners have been very clear that they are trying to keep [this film and Sandman] separate so when the time comes they can unite them, once they know they’re quantifiable.” Del Toro also added that his Constantine would not adhere to the continuity established in the television series, but he would consider incorporating elements from it, and even think about casting the same actor (Matt Ryan). In November 2014, del Toro confirmed that the script was complete and handed it in to Warner Bros. to be reviewed. In December 2014, he hinted that the film will be part of the DC Extended Universe.
In April 2015, del Toro said the script revision has been handed in and if there was availability in his schedule, he would direct it; if not, “somebody else will do it… [The film] needs to fall into the plan of the shared universe.” In June 2015, the film was confirmed to still be in development at Warner Bros., with some of their other Vertigo Comics film adaptions moving to New Line Cinema. The Hollywood Reporter stated that del Toro was no longer attached to the project. In August 2016, it was announced that Doug Liman will direct the film with del Toro and Scott Rudin producing and Michael Gilio writing with the film being titled Dark Universe.
In June 2016, it was revealed that an animated Justice League Dark film was in development as the next film in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies series. In July 2016, the film was announced at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International and both John Constantine and Swamp Thing are confirmed to appear respectively. Zatanna, Deadman, Etrigan the Demon and Black Orchid will also be appearing as members of the team. The film was given the release window of Fall 2016. A sneak peek, with interviews by some of the creators, was provided as a special feature for the DVD and Blu-ray release of Batman: The Killing Joke. The film will be digitally released on January 24, 2017 and on DVD and Blu-ray on February 7, 2017.